SPOKANE, Wash. (courtesy GoZags.com) — The Gonzaga University men’s basketball team received the No. 8 seed in the West Region when the pairings for this season’s NCAA Tournament were announced Sunday. The Bulldogs, making their 16th consecutive appearance in the field, will face ninth-seeded Oklahoma State on Friday at Viejas Arena in San Diego.
The Zags, 28-6, will face a familiar foe in the Cowboys, who boast a 21-12 record. Friday’s matchup will mark the sixth meeting between the schools, all occurring since 2005. The Bulldogs won the five previous games with OSU, including a 69-68 thriller in Stillwater, Okla., a season ago. Gary Bell Jr. drilled the go-ahead 3-pointer with 35 seconds left while Kevin Pangos tallied a game-high 23 points.
Oklahoma State, which finished eighth in the Big 12 with an 8-10 conference record, earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Cowboys are making their second consecutive appearance in the tournament and 26th overall. Their NCAA history includes two national championships, coming in 1945 and ’46, and six Final Fours, the last coming in 2004.
Marcus Smart, the Big 12 Player of the Year as a freshman, paces the Cowboys’ attack. The 6-foot-4 sophomore averages 17.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Three other players also average double-figure scoring for the Cowboys, including Markel Brown (17.1), LeBryan Nash (14.2) and Phil Forte (13.3).
Gonzaga is 16-8 all-time against schools from the Big 12. The Bulldogs went 1-1 this season, beating West Virginia 80-76 on the road and losing to Kansas State 72-62 at a neutral site.
This season marks Gonzaga’s 16th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 17th overall. The Zags finished 15-3 in the West Coast Conference en route to their 17th regular-season title. The Bulldogs also claimed their 13th WCC Tournament championship by winning three games in Las Vegas, including a 75-64 victory over BYU in the title tilt.
The winner of the Gonzaga/Oklahoma State game will play either Arizona, the Pac-12 regular-season champion and top seed in the West Region, or Weber State, the No. 16 seed that earned the automatic bid from the Big Sky. Gonzaga and Arizona staged an epic second-round showdown in the 2003 tournament in Salt Lake City. The Wildcats nipped the Bulldogs 96-95 in double overtime.
Check www.GoZags.com for information regarding NCAA Tournament tickets.