Gonzaga guard Nolan Hickman, front, drives past TCU guard Damion Baugh in the second half of a second-round college basketball game in the men's NCAA tournament Saturday, March 19, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/John Leyba)

Gonzaga vs. UCLA NCAA Tournament Preview

No. 3 Gonzaga and No. 2 UCLA are set to play Thursday night in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. The two teams are among the best on the West Coast, making tonight’s game somewhat of a rivalry.

Previous Meetings

This is not the first time the Bulldogs and Bruins have met in the NCAA tournament. In 2006, UCLA defeated Gonzaga 73-71 in the Sweet 16 after trailing by as much as 17. The game left Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison sobbing on the court.

In the 2021 Final Four, Gonzaga came out on top. Jalen Suggs hit a game-winning buzzer-beater to keep the Zags’ undefeated season alive. The final score was 93-90.

Players to Watch

Leading in points and rebounds for the Zags is Drew Timme. He is a key player in tonight’s game. At forward, he averages 21.1 ppg and 7.3 rebounds per game. He has been a strong force for Gonzaga so far in the tournament. Timme put up 28 points in the Zags’ win over TCU on Sunday.

For UCLA, guard Jaime Jacquez Jr. will be essential for a Bruin victory. Jacquez averages 17.5 ppg and 8.1 rebounds per game. His 24-point performance against Northwestern helped propel the Bruins to the Sweet 16.

Preview: Gonzaga vs. UCLA

This Sweet 16 matchup is between two outstanding teams. With the Zags leading the country in scoring (87.5 ppg), the Bruins will have to go all out on defense to earn their spot in the Elite 8. Jaime Jacquez said transition defense and stopping the pick and roll will be a focus entering the game. Containing Drew Timme is also essential for the Bruins.

UCLA has the sixth best defense in the country (allowing 60.2 ppg), which will put Gonzaga to the test. The Zags will also need to keep an eye on Jacquez and improve their defense if they want to stop the Bruins’ effective offense. Gonzaga coach Mark Few says that they will look out for Tyger Campbell (13.4 ppg) as well. Coach Few knows that UCLA coach Mick Cronin instills a lot of toughness in his team, which the Zags will try to match.

The teams hold similar records, with Bruins going 31-5 in the regular season, and the Zags ending with a 30-5 record.

UCLA is a 1.5-point favorite in the matchup. The over-under for scoring is 145.5.

Tipoff is set for 9:45 p.m. in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The winner of tonight’s matchup will face the winner of the UConn-Arkansas game in the Elite Eight this weekend.

About Ainsley Davis

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