Men's Basketball

Gonzaga seeks fourth straight Sweet 16 appearance. Ohio State eyes first since 2013.

Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura saves the ball from going out of bounds with a deflection off UNC Greensboro’s Jordy Kuiper in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament West Regional on Thursday at Taco Bell Arena in Boise.
Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura saves the ball from going out of bounds with a deflection off UNC Greensboro’s Jordy Kuiper in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament West Regional on Thursday at Taco Bell Arena in Boise. doswald@idahostatesman.com

No. 4 Gonzaga vs. No. 5 Ohio State

Region: West

When: 5:45 p.m. Saturday (CBS)

Vegas line: Gonzaga by 3

Why Gonzaga should win: The Zags crushed the Buckeyes on Nov. 23, an 86-59 rout in Portland. Though some of the team’s best scorers were kept at bay against UNC Greensboro on Thursday, Gonzaga wins because it has six scorers averaging at least 9.4 points per game. On the defensive end, the Zags are just as tough, ranked in the top 20 nationally in field-goal percentage and rebounding.

Why Ohio State could win: The Buckeyes aren’t the deepest team, with only six guys getting more than 7 minutes Thursday, but they have three starters who went for 20 points or more. Forward Keita Bates-Diop is going to be a problem for Gonzaga (24 points, 12 rebounds against South Dakota State). If they can stay patient on offense and run their system, the Buckeyes have a shot.

Notable: Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann has won coach of the year honors in three conferences (Big South, Big East and Big Ten) in the last six seasons. ... The Buckeyes attempted a school-record 40 3-pointers against South Dakota State. ... Gonzaga has won an NCAA Tournament game in 10 straight seasons, tied for the longest active streak in the nation with Kansas. ... These two teams met in the second round of the 2012 tournament, a 73-67 Ohio State win. ... After his 13th rebound Thursday, Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams has 1,000 in his career.

Quotable: “They’ve got a lot more shooters out there, a lot more confidence. They’re still monsters on the boards, but we’re a different team as well. It’s going to be a fight (Saturday), for sure.” — Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins, on how the teams have changed since the first meeting

Prediction: Gonzaga 77, Ohio State 70

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