|ESPN.com: College Basketball Rumors||[Print without images]|
"For all the talk about Gonzaga not deserving a 1-seed and drawing a weak bracket, the committee didn't do the Zags any favors by potentially Pitt-ing them against the Panthers in the round of 32. Pittsburgh is no No. 8 seed. In fact, our model calls the Panthers the seventh-best team in the country in terms of their base power rating (just two spots behind Gonzaga). Largely because of that fact, they have an absurdly high GK rating of 67. Then consider the fact that the Panthers sport the country's fourth-best offensive rebound percentage (40.8), force steals on 10.9 percent of possessions and play at a slug-like pace (339th in the country). That's not a pretty sight for the Zags. Gonzaga should be rooting for Wichita State in the opener, then. The Shockers are a fine team, rebound well at both ends and force plenty of steals (11.5 percent of possessions). But they shoot poorly, especially from deep, and turn it over too much. They're still good enough to beat Gonzaga, but it's not the same as facing Pitt. Not that Gonzaga should just collapse, of course. The Bulldogs rank third in offensive efficiency and 14th in defensive efficiency and do all sorts of damage themselves on the offensive glass (37.4 percent). Their primary weakness against a GK is a tendency to allow too many 3-point attempts (38 percent of shots, 314th in the nation), but neither Pitt nor Wichita State is as 3-heavy as other teams who could take advantage of that weakness. Still, a Pitt-Gonzaga game becomes a virtual toss-up -- not what a 31-2 team bargained for in the round of 32."