Game to be played at United Center, Chicago, IL.
Syracuse and Gonzaga are two of the most surprising teams in the Sweet 16, but they also have been two of the most impressive teams through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The 10th-seeded Orange and the 11th-seeded Bulldogs eye another strong effort – and a spot in the Elite 8 – when they clash in Friday’s nightcap in Chicago.
The earlier contest in the Windy City pits top-seeded Virginia against No. 4 seed Iowa State, but the region’s two Cinderella squads have generated as much (if not more) buzz for their dominant play in the tournament’s opening weekend. Syracuse rolled past Dayton by 19 points and Middle Tennessee by 25, while Gonzaga topped Seton Hall by 16 before knocking off Utah in a 23-point affair. Each team is led by a sweet-shooting senior, as Michael Gbinije paces the Orange in scoring (17.8) and 3-pointers (90), while Kyle Wiltjer does the same for the Bulldogs (20.4, 86). In the front court, Domantas Sabonis has been a force for Gonzaga, although Syracuse’s Tyler Roberson and Tyler Lydon also have enjoyed terrific tournaments to this point.
TV: 9:40 p.m. ET, CBS
LINE HISTORY: The books opened this game with Gonzaga as 4.5-point favorites over Syracuse but the public bet the line down to Gonzaga -4. The total opened at 135.5 and dropped slightly to 135. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT GONZAGA (28-7, 17-15-1 ATS, 17-16 O/U): Sabonis (19 points, 10 rebounds), Wiltjer (17 points) and Eric McClellan (22 points) all shot at least 66 percent in the win over Utah while combining to go 6-of-7 from 3-point range. Those three average double-digit points, as does freshman Josh Perkins (10.2), who is 1-of-8 from beyond the arc in the NCAAs but likely will be needed to knock down shots over the Syracuse 2-3 zone. With seven straight wins, however, Bulldogs coach Mark Few does not want the recent success to go to his players’ heads, saying this week: “We don’t want them patted on the back. I like them playing with an edge and desperation and maybe not feeling that good about themselves.”
ABOUT SYRACUSE (21-13, 18-15 ATS, 17-16 O/U): After shooting a season-high 55.1 percent against Middle Tennessee, Jim Boeheim knows that his team is playing some of its best basketball at the right time of the season. “I think we just have to make sure we understand that there’s a lot to be done, a lot can be done, a lot of good things can happen and we have to focus on that, the next game and not really look backward,” Boeheim told reporters. “There will be time to look backward, some day.” In the meantime, the veteran coach needs continued solid production from Gbinije (23 points on 10-of-14 shooting last game), Roberson (averaging 11 points and 13.5 rebounds in the tournament) and Lydon (14 points and seven rebounds in both games so far).
* Bulldogs are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
* Orange are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Under is 5-0 in Bulldogs last 5 vs. Atlantic Coast.
* Under is 6-1 in Orange last 7 NCAA Tournament games.