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Bulldogs Draw No. 7 Seed, Battle 10-Seed W. Virginia Thursday; Zags’ 14th Consecutive NCAA Tourney

Gonzaga University men's basketball Coach Mark Few speaks to the media Sunday after his Zags earned a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The Bulldogs will take on the West Virginia Mountaineers on Thursday. Game time TBA. Photo by Peter Tormey.

Tracking the Zags | Selection Sunday
March 11, 2012

By Peter Tormey
SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University’s Bulldogs are pleased to have earned a No. 7 seed today in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, the Zags’ 14th-straight trip to the Big Dance.  The 25-6  Bulldogs will battle No. 10 seed University of West Virginia in a second-round game Thursday in the East Region at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Tip-off is is 4:20 p.m. (Pacific Daylight Time) and the game will be televised on TNT.

Gonzaga’s streak of consecutive NCAA Tournament berths ranks fourth among current schools, behind only Kansas, Duke and Michigan State. This marks the Mountaineers’ fifth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance under Coach Bob Huggins, the seventh in the last eight years, and the 25th overall in program history.

Click the video below to view Gonzaga Coach Mark Few’s comments on the program’s 14th-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

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The Zags gathered together to watch the Selection Sunday show announcing the pairings.

“It’s great, everybody gets excited and jumps up, overjoyed,” Few said. “Then, from a coaching standpoint, reality hits you and ‘Oh we’re going to get to play a really good team.’ So you start thinking about that, but the first reaction is everybody gets excited.”

Few calls Mountaineers’ Coach Huggins a friend.

“Coach Huggins is a really good buddy of mine,” Few said. “I think he’s one of those guys that’s kind of quietly over the years put together kind of a Hall of Fame-level career. It’s built on his teams that are just so tough, tough, really tough and rebound the ball well, defend you. He always finds a way to put the guys in the right spots to be successful. Offensively, a great player is Kevin Jones and I expect a really physical game. It’s going to be a home game for them, that will be the hardest thing.”

West Virginia will be playing close to its campus Thursday. The Consol Energy Center is 75 miles from Morgantown, W. Va.

“We need all the help we can get,” said Huggins. “Hopefully (fans) are on the phone right now trying to get tickets because we’re only going to get our allotment.”

The Gonzaga-West Virginia winner will play Saturday against the winner of the Ohio State vs. Loyola, Maryland game.

Huggins said he has know Coach Few for “many years and we’ve played them a couple of times when I was at Cincinnati,” he said. “But I don’t know a lot about them right now. I will here in a while.”

The Mountaineers lost to Connecticut 71-67 in overtime in the second round of the Big East Conference Tournament last Wednesday (March 7) and shot only 34.7 percent from the floor in the game, after losing a double-digit lead to UConn in the second half. It was the seventh time this season West Virginia lost a lead in the second half, and the ninth time they shot less than 40 percent from the field.

Gonzaga is coming off a 78-74 overtime loss to regular-season West Coast Conference champion Saint Mary’s College last Monday night (March 5) in the WCC Tournament Championship at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

West Virginia’s senior forward Kevin Jones scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Huskies of UConn. Jones, who is averaging 20.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game this season, recorded his 21st double-double and 19th 20-point game of the season last Wednesday.

Gonzaga senior center Robert Sacre said the 6-foot-8-inch, 260-pound Jones will be a handful.

“Kevin Jones is a phenomenal player,” Sacre said. “He is one of the best Big East players now and I think we have a tough job on our hands, but you know what? I think we’ll be alright. We just need to come out and play basketball and play our style and I think we can beat them.” Sacre said he is eager to play a team that doesn’t know the Zags as well as some of its WCC foes.

“I’m salivating now to be playing outside of the WCC,” he said. “It’s going to be a bruiser of a game and I think both teams know that.”

Click the video below to view Gonzaga Athletic Director Mike Roth’s comments on the Zags’ tournament berth and tickets:

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Gonzaga will sell tickets to the NCAA Second- and Third-Round Tournament games in Pittsburgh to current Bulldog Club members until 9 p.m. today (Sunday, March 11). Tickets can be purchased by calling the Gonzaga Ticket Office (509) 313-6000). Bulldog Club membership status will be verified and ticket availability is limited. If tickets are available after tonight, the ticket office will resume taking orders at 9 a.m. Monday (March 12). At that time, Gonzaga alumni will have the opportunity to call for tickets.

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