BOISE, Idaho - It may be easy for most to look past a 13-4 seed matchup, but the Gonzaga Bulldogs have an extra reason to avoid that mistake. On Thursday, No. 4 seeded Gonzaga will go up against the NCAA tournament's best 13-seed according to KenPom Rankings - UNC Greensboro. That's why even the veterans of the tournament are excited about round one.
"I mean, I'm getting the butterflies already," said redshirt junior guard Josh Perkins. "So I mean just ready for that clock to hit 20 tomorrow, ready to get out there with my guys, ready to prove a point again."
The Zags are ready to get going, but standing in the way is a tough 13-seeded Spartans team that can cause problems in a variety of ways.
"They're a really scrappy team, a really tough team, physical as well and they can really shoot the 3 pretty well," said redshirt freshman guard Zach Norvell Jr. "We kind of struggled with that throughout the year, but you know, it's win or go home now so I'm pretty sure a lot of the guys, we're really competitive so I'm pretty sure we'll lock down [on Thursday]."
"We've been playing against good three-point shooters all conference," said senior guard Silas Melson. "That's a lot of the WCC and you know these guys, I think one of them made 100 plus threes and that's high level, so we're obviously going to focus on that a lot more."
For the Spartans, they have to match the size of the Zags while matching up with the Bulldogs' speed.
"We know that they like to run in transition, we know they like to feed it inside," said UNCG forward Garrett Collins. "We're going to have to play really good post defense, really good ball screen defense, and just get back in transition."
The Zags are well aware of the target on their back, and UNCG, they're not afraid of the spotlight.
"We always, you know, go about our games with an 'X' on our back being Gonzaga," said Norvell Jr. "A lot of people want to beat us, a lot of people don't give us respect, so you know being here is the same situation."
"Every year you know you see the mid-majors or the underdogs beat the top guys and it's so exciting," said UNCG guard Demetrius Troy. "You get the national coverage and everything but, you know, we feel like we're here for a reason and we feel like we have as good a chance as anybody."
Tip-off is Thursday in the Taco Bell Arena at 10:30 a.m.
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