Upset-minded Florida State Gets Shot at Powerful Gonzaga
LOS ANGELES (AP) — No. 4 seed Gonzaga (32-4) vs. No. 9 seed Florida State (22-11)
Third round, West Region; Los Angeles; 10:07 p.m. EDT.
BOTTOM LINE: Surprising Florida State has crossed the country to take on its third higher-seeded opponent when the Seminoles face the Zags, who are off to a strong start in their attempt to return to the NCAA championship game. These two programs led by long-serving, respected coaches have met just once before, in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
GOING DEEP: Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton uses 11 players extensively on a regular basis. Nine Seminoles are scoring at least 6.6 points per game while still playing the full-court defense described by Mike Krzyzewski as a "containment press." That depth played a role in the Seminoles' strong start to the tournament, including their upset of top-seeded Xavier. Gonzaga coach Mark Few doesn't dig quite as deep into his bench, but he got 25 points from reserve Rui Hachimura in the Zags' second-round win over Ohio State.
AT THE RIM: This game could be won down low. Gonzaga is one of the NCAA's best defensive teams on two-point field goals, while Florida State strives to score in the paint. The Zags' man-to-man, switching defensive philosophy will be tested by the Seminoles' offensive patience and versatility.
QUOTABLE: "Physically, (Florida State is) probably easily the most physically imposing and athletically gifted team we've faced maybe in the 20 years I've been head coach. Just the bodies, the size, the length and the athleticism is really impressive, and the amount of pressure they can bring, just the size and athleticism and the voracity (with which) they go to the offensive glass, and the way they drive downhill, it's impressive." — Gonzaga coach Mark Few.