Featured Video from Scott Reichel
The Fairleigh Dickinson Knights escaped their NCAA Tournament First Four game with the Prairie View A&M Panthers on Tuesday night finding an 82 – 76 win despite an extremely slow start to the affair.
As a result, the Knights have now landed the 16-seed in the Wast Regional, and will now face #1 Gonzaga, who still landed an overall top-seed in their bracket despite the loss to St. Mary’s in their WCC Tournament final.
The Knights took the regular season NEC title and ended the year with another banner to hang from their conference tourney trophy won after beating St. Francis, PA in the finals.
Efforts from both Jahill Jenkins and Darnell Edge lifted the Knights over the Panthers on Tuesday after getting down by as many as 13 points, as the score of the game was only 30 – 17 with 4:52 left to play as both teams struggled to find the net early.
The Zags put up another 30-win campaign under head coach Mark Few, who has won 30 games in 5 of his 20 campaigns in Spokane, WA, and has never won less than 23 games in any year with Gonzaga.
Gonzaga will naturally be heavily favored for this 1/16 clash in Salt Lake City Utah, something we have seen all season long from the WCC team with a lot to prove this time around at the NCAA Tournament.
Knights Bring 9-game Win Streak Into 1st Round Meeting With Zags
The Knights might have seemed nervous in their First Four encounter with Prairie View A&M to start the night, but head coach Greg Herenda put an end to all that by really getting on not all of his guys, but more particularly he made it clear that he was unhappy with Jahill Jenkins.
Jenkins had taken a 3-pointer early in the shot clock in a possession that needed points, and when he missed an open man and shot it anyway, coach got on his ass in front of all of us on national TV.
To the extent that even after the game in the post-game interview, Tracy Wolfson even asked both coach and Jenkins about the incident.
Wolfson first stopped coach Herenda, and emotionally he said to Tracy, “Look at the kind of kids we have, Jenkins has so much heart.” As he responded to Wolfson’s question about picking up the program’s first win at the NCAA Tournament, coach said, “It’s history, it’s amazing, all the glory goes to my players and coaching staff — I just have to get out of the way more.”
Jenkins got off to a rough start running the offense, as the Knights committed 10 turnovers in the first half, and they all seemed to come together, with the deficit getting deeper and deeper until coach lost his marbles on Jenkins, really.
Anyone who saw that thought to themselves, ‘oh boy, coach is f**kin’ pissed man’.
— FDU Knights (@FDUKnights) March 20, 2019
Jenkins got his shit together, and he got a big bunch of help from edge man Darnell Edge, who sat on that edge and threw P.V A&M off the edge of extinction in the NCAA big show.
Edge landed 33 points and splashed home 7 of his 9 attempts from behind the arc and nailed all 8 of his free throws to boot.
Jenkins ended the night with 22 points, as the two were the leading scorers for the Knights all season long as Edge averaged 16.4 PPG, and Jenkins took in 13.5 PPG this season.
Coach Herenda brought in 3 players off the bench, and they scored as many points as you and I did sitting at home watching the game. That’s a big zilch from all 3 of them, which might not bode well tonight against #1 Gonzaga, but that’s why they play the games!
Can The Zags Take Their #1 Seed To A Final Four Run?
Well, this conversation has been had for 20 years now, because anyone who has followed college hoops in the least over that time span knows how dominant Gonzaga has been in the West Coast Conference, but it hasn’t lead to a single Final Four appearance.
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) March 20, 2019
The Zags and head coach Mark Few have 5 Sweet 16 showings, and the 2015 season ended with a run to the Elite 8 against Duke.
Mark Few was seen on the March Madness YouTube channel yesterday, and was asked about the season, and how the loss to St. Mary’s affected his team and if they learned anything from it. Few responded with, “I don’t know what we can learn from it — now the players need to refocus on the fact of things that made us successful, and kinda conversely, what doesn’t make us successful.”
St Mary’s and Gonzaga have been the cream of the crop in the WCC for years now, and St. Mary’s, of course, ended up taking the WCC Tournament title over the Zags, which didn’t effect the committee enough to drop them below a 1-seed in whatever bracket they were landing in.
That loss to St. Mary’s was still only their 3rd of the season that produced another 30-win campaign for Gonzaga, but again, it will stand for naught with another early exit from the big dance.
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) March 19, 2019
The Zags are led by junior forward Rui Hachimura‘s 20.1 PPG, as he put up double-digits in every game this year until the WCC Tourney finals when he was left with only 9 points against St. Mary’s. Hachimura picked up 4 double-doubles this year as well, as he took in 6.6 boards a contest while shooting an impressive 60.9% from the floor.
Another junior forward, Brandon Clarke, averaged 16.5 PPG this season, while leading the team on the glass with 8.4 boards a contest to go along with his 3 blocks a night. While Hachimura fell 1-point short of scoring double-digits in every game this year, Clarke did accomplish the feat, while picking up 11 double-doubles as well.
Sophomore guard Zach Norvell Jr. keeps the big boys fed up front and navigates his way to 15.3 PPG while grabbing just over 4 boards and 3 dimes a contest. Norvell and senior Josh Perkins fill the back-court together quite effectively, as Perkins snatched 11 PPG and hands out 6.5 assists a night.
• Gonzaga is 5 – 5 ATS in their last 10 road games.
• Over is 4 – 2 in Gonzaga’s last 6 games.
• Over is 8 – 7 in Gonzaga’s last 15 non-conference games.
• Knights are 8 – 1 ATS in their last 9 games.
• Knights are 19 – 13 overall their last 32 games.
• Over is 4 – 1 in Knights last 5 non-conference games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I will test the FDU comeback win to start their NCAA Tournament, and see if it leads to a decent showing against a motivated Zags with much bigger aspirations than a 1st round win over Fairleigh Dickinson.
Not to say Mark Few will overlook anyone, but I hope FDU, at least, shows up and makes it again, although we know the Zags were covered some heavy lines all season long.
Prediction: FDU +26.5
Full-Game Total Pick
If all the line setters are going to ask us to expect is 153 points or more from this last game of the night on Thursday, than I will oblige them with a play on the Over.
I expect a Zags win in the range of 88 – 70, so play it accordingly towards the dog and the over.
Prediction: Over 152.5