Player to Watch
Junior guard Matt Santangelo shot so poorly in November that he had trouble sleeping. Then, drawing on lessons learned from someone whom he had worked out with and guarded in pickup games in the off-season—Bulldogs alumnus John Stockton—Santangelo rediscovered his stroke and scored a career-high 34 points, including a school-record eight three-pointers, in the West Coast Conference tournament final.
Because Gonzaga's strength is on the perimeter, whence Santangelo, Richie Frahm and Quentin Hall have each made at least 48 treys, coach Dan Monson estimates that the Bulldogs have faced a zone defense on fewer than 40 possessions this season. Gonzaga, whose big men aren't all that hefty, is vulnerable on the boards and on defense against powerful post players.
Coach Dan Monson
Team scoring 79-1 (FG%: 48.1) (3-pointers: 254-646, 39.3%)
Opponent scoring 64.6 (FG%: 40.6)
Rebound margin +4.7
Team FT% 72.8
Whom not to foul Quentin Hall (82%), Richie Frahm (78%)
Whom to foul Casey Calvary (53%), Axel Dench (69%)
Quality win Washington 82-71
Get ready to hear the phrase "John Stockton's alma mater" until the Bulldogs go out in the second round against Stanford.
3 North Carolina
Player to Watch
Ademola Okulaja used to be the other guy in a blue-chip recruiting class that included Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter, but with his classmates' early departures for the NBA, Okulaja has emerged as the first player ever to lead the Tar Heels in scoring (13.8 points a game), rebounding (8.4), three-pointers (54) and steals (45). After sinking only 25.8% from behind the arc last year, he improved to 43.2% and has become North Carolina's top option in crunch time.
The Heels probably start the nation's tallest lineup, with 6'9" Okulaja, 7-foot Brendan Haywood, 6'10" Kris Lang and 6'8" guard Jason Capel, but junior point guard Ed Cota is plodding Carolina's only reliable ball handler. As a result, the Heels had almost as many turnovers (518) as assists (526). That could be their undoing against a quick, athletic team.
Coach Bill Guthridge
Team scoring 71-3 (FG%: 47.4) (3-pointers: 166-439, 37.8%)
Opponent scoring 64.5 (FG%: 39.1)
Rebound margin +8.9
Team FT% 71.9
Whom not to foul Jason Capel (85%), Max Owens (84%)
Whom to foul Ed Cota (67%), Kris Lang (67%)
Quality wins Stanford 57-49, Maryland 86-79