NCAA Tournament Round One Pick: #1 Gonzaga vs #16 Fairleigh Dickinson
Knights Will Be Tested by Bulldogs
Our Gonzaga vs Fairleigh Dickinson preview and pick has the Bulldogs favored by 28 to 28.5 points. This 2019 NCAA Tournament Round One game, which is in the West Region, will be played Thursday, March 21 at 7:27 pm ET. The first-seed Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-3) proved in the West Coast Conference finals that no one is perfect. The Zags, who are ranked third in the nation, lost to the St. Mary’s Gaels 60-47, assuring SMC would get an invite to the Big Dance. The Bulldogs were way off the mark in that title game, as they scored barely half of the total number of points they’ve been averaging a game (88.8 PPG).
The 16th-seed Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (20-13) are in the NCAA Tournament due to their having taken the Northeast Conference Tournament title. The Knights beat the top-seed St. Francis Red Flash (PA) 85-76 to secure their tournament berth. In that game, Fairleigh Dickinson shot 64% from the field. The Knights get the chance to play the Zags due to their having beaten Prairie View A&M 82-76 in one of the First Four contests.
This is a team that churns out points like there’s no tomorrow. They also utilize a huge amount of ball movement, averaging 18.2 APG. In terms of rebounding, they’re grabbing 38.6 RPG. This high-scoring team is connecting on 58.3% of their field goals. Our vs pick notes that the Bulldogs come into the tournament with a ferocious frontcourt that’s noted for getting the job done.
Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke and Corey Kispert are the top guys in the paint. Hachimura leads the team with 20.1 PPG and a three-point shot that’s good 46.9% of the time. Clarke, who’s good for 16.5 PPG, tops the Bulldogs in rebounds, averaging 8.4 per game. Clarke is connecting on field goals 69.3 percent of the time. Kispert is an 89.5% free throw shooter. In the backcourt, guards Zach Norvell Jr and Josh Perkins are effective. Perkins is the motor and playmaker averaging 6.5 APG. Our Gonzaga vs Fairleigh Dickinson preview observes that Norvell is good for 15.3 PPG. That’s third-highest on the Zags.
During the season, the Knights averaged 75.4 PPG, 32.9 RPG, and 14.1 APG. The hit a healthy 40.4% of their threes and a solid 47.8% from the floor. Free throw came in at 73.2%. Three guards, Darnell Edge (16.4 PPG), Jahlil Jenkins (13.5 PPG), and Xzavier Malone-Key (11.4 PPG), are double-digit scoring threats with Jenkins (4.5 APG) being the team’s setup man. Two forwards, Mike Holloway Jr. (12.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG) and Kaleb Bishop (10.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG) offer points and rebounding.
Note, our Gonzaga vs Fairleigh Dickinson preview found that in the last three games, Malone-Key has been absent from the court. The Knights are one of those teams that look for the best shot and spread the scoring around. Certainly, the upfront play of Holloway, who’s a 51.5% shooter, and Bishop, who’s hitting 49.8%, is important. Both can pop out and hits threes. Edge can connect on anywhere on the court. He’s good on 47% of his field goals and threes.
NCAA Tournament Round One – Gonzaga vs Fairleigh Dickinson Preview Pick
Success for the Knights will require adroit ball movement and keen shot selection. They’ll need to win the battle in the paint, which won’t be easy against the Zags. Our Gonzaga vs Fairleigh Dickinson preview notes that after their loss in their tournament final, that the Zags should come on strong and play this game to the hilt.