BYU men’s basketball takes on Gonzaga Monday, March 7 at 8:30 p.m. (MST) at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the second semifinal game of the West Coast Conference tournament. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Last year’s tournament match-up: The Cougars lost to the Bulldogs 91-75 in last year’s WCC tournament championship game for the second straight year.
Regular season meetings: BYU and Gonzaga split the season series 1-1, with each team narrowly winning on the road. The Cougars pulled out a 69-68 win over then-ranked No.25/21 Gonzaga in “The Kennel” January 14. The Bulldogs returned the favor with a 71-68 victory on Senior Night in the Marriott Center February 27.
Momentum factor: BYU has a bad taste in its mouth and is hungry for revenge after the heartbreaking regular season finale. The Cougars hope to build off a 72-60 win over Santa Clara in the tournament quarterfinals. Gonzaga destroyed Portland 92-67 in its quarterfinal game and has played in the WCC championship game in every season since Mark Few was named head coach (1999).
What a win means: A win for either team gives them a shot to win the tournament championships. Instead of playing the Bulldogs in the championship for third straight year, BYU has to beat Gonzaga in the semifinals en route to the championship game. The victor will play the winner of the Tuesday night.
Players to watch: Freshman guard Zac Seljaas played a key part in the Cougars’ successful 1-3-1 zone defense against the Bulldogs earlier this season. At 6-foot-7, Seljaas’ height helps guard the Zags’ tall forwards. Seljaas scored 12 points in BYU’s 72-60 quarterfinal win over Santa Clara, including three 3-pointers.
Gonzaga senior forward Kyle Wiltjer poses obvious threats, having scored 35 points in both games against the Cougars. BYU head coach Dave Rose will likely use senior guard Kyle Collinsworth, Seljaas and a rotation of bigs to contain Wiltjer, who will likely be drafted into the NBA in June.