Day & Time: Friday, March 25, approx. 9:40 p.m. EST
Arena: United Center, Chicago, IL
Line: -4.5, Gonzaga
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Dan Bonner, Reggie Miller, Lewis Johnson
Gonzaga Blog: Slipper Still Fits
Rivalry: 1-0, Syracuse
Current Streak: 1, duh
First & Last Time: The first and only meeting between the two schools also took place in the NCAA Tournament. In the second round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, Wes Johnson scored 31 and the Orange cruised to a 87-65 victory over the Bulldogs.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (40th Year, 987-346), Gonzaga: Mark Few (17th Year, 466-110)
Curious Connections: Boeheim and Few are actually good friends off the court and the two are huge fundraisers for Coaches vs. Cancer. Few speaks very highly of Jimmy B.
"He ... took me under his wing on Nike trips and NCAA things," Few said. "I’ll always remember that. He’s a Hall of Fame coach. I don’t think you guys get to know him on the level we get to know him. He’s got a great sense of humor. He’s a very, very fun guy to be around.
"Until I was able to see that side of him, you never would have guessed that. Obviously his coaching stands for itself. And the other thing I don’t think people understand is how involved he is in college basketball. He gives so much back to this game via U.S.A. Basketball, through the NABC, with everything he does. I mean, he has dedicated his life to not only Syracuse basketball, but to college basketball. We’re so much better off because of that.
"I don’t think people realize how many days a year he gives up to basketball and cancer and all those things like that. So he’s a heck of a mentor."
Nickname & Mascot: Long ago, they were known as the Gonzaga Blue & Whites (how very Syracuse Orange of you). There was also a time they were known as the Gonzaga Fightin' Irish. I kid you not. As these things happen, when a reporter said the Gonzaga football team "fought tenaciously like bulldogs," it stuck and in 1921 that became their nickname.
Last Year: The Zags ran wild through the WCC as well as the national rankings. They got as high as No. 2 in the nation before ending the season ranked No. 7. The Zags finished in first place in the West Coast Conference Standings for the 18th time with a 17-1 conference record and claimed their 14th WCC tournament title, They entered the NCAA Tournament as a two-seed and made it all the way to their first Elite Eight before losing to eventual champ Duke. They finished the season with a 35–3 record, the most wins in school history.
This Year: The Zags started the season high in the rankings but a series of early losses bumped them out for msot of the second-half of the year. They still finished with a solid 26-7 record and yet another WCC title, en route to an 11-seed in the NCAA Tournament. As the Zags do, they seemed to have saved their best for last.
Last Game: As much as Syracuse shut down Middle Tennessee, Gonzaga really shut down No. 3 Utah in an 82-59 romp. Four players scored in double figures and the Utes never stood a chance.
Coach Bio: Mark Few's college coaching career began as an assistant on the Gonzaga bench in 1989. He eventually took over the program in 1999 just as it was beginning to show the promise of what was to come. All he's done in the seventeen seasons since is take the Zags to the NCAA Tournament every single year, go to six Sweet Sixteens and one Elite Eight. He's also turned Gonzaga from a good mid-major program into a program that stands alongside all of the power conference teams.
"Fear Me, I've Killed Hundreds of Timelords": There's nothing worse for this Syracuse team than an athletic big man who can push Tyler Lydon and Dajuan Coleman around while also creating his own shot and being a hoss on defense. I've literally just described Domantas Sabonis to you so be scared. Be very scared.
If Syracuse Wins: Oh my God the fun we're going to have with the Doug Gottliebs and Seth Davises of the world.
If Syracuse Loses: I suppose you can crack open that can of gravy.
Fun Fact: This is almost the second time Syracuse and Gonzaga played this season. The Zags lost to Texas A&M in the Battle 4 Atlantis second round but had they won they would have met the Orange in the finals. Guess they wanted to save it.