16. January 2020; Spokane, Washington, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs Guard Joel Ayayi (11) brings the ball out of the quick break against the Santa Clara Broncos in the second half at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Gonzaga spent four weeks at No.. 1 and seven weeks at No.. 2 last season where it ended in the last AP Top 25 poll. The only team before the Bulldogs ended up being Kansas, who also spent four weeks at No. 1 and in the top 6 for the entire season before coming to the top at the end of the season.
But the country’s two best teams never made it onto the pitch last season as they had the chance to make it into the Final Four as No.. 1 to meet. 1 seed collapsed when college basketball postseason was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So maybe it’s only fitting that No.. 1 bulldogs and no. 6 Jayhawks will compete against each other for their 2020-21 season on Thursday at Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off.
The pandemic is still raging, and both teams’ squads look a bit different from last season, but a showdown among the top 10 teams is something any college fan can be thankful for, especially in 2020. That this is only the second ever meeting between Gonzaga and Kansas makes it even cuter.
Kansas: The Jayhawks have lost three starters, including the best duo in college basketball in Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike. But the Jayhawks are giving back Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Garrett and colleague Ochai Agbaji, who were both starters on last year’s 28-3 team. Thereafter, coach Bill Self will mix a group of seasoned reserves with a few fascinating newcomers when he turns 18. Kansas season begins. It will be especially exciting to see if five-star freshman Bryce Thompson and / or junior college transfer Tyson Grant-Foster can emerge as efficient goalscorer to ease the Jayhawks’ offensive load.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs had an average of seven players between 9. 8 and 17. 5 points per game last season. Four of them have left, but the three who are returning are each potential superstars. The trio of guard Joel Ayayi, versatile striker Corey Kispert and great man Drew Timme was supposed to be fatal. When they need help, freshman Jalen Suggs steps up as the top-rated recruit in Mark Few’s 22 years as a coach. He is one of three top 100 signatories in the 2020 class for Gonzaga. Transfer guards Andrew Nembhard from Florida and Aaron Cook from southern Illinois also come into play after proving solid players on their previous stops. This abundance of talent is why this Gonzaga team is the first in program history to be No.. 1 has reached. 1 place in the AP Top 25 preseason survey.
Kansas is recalibrating its entire identity following the departures of Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike, as so much of what it did last season is based on this dominant duo. The Jayhawks have a knack for doing the job well and will fight for a Big 12 title. However, it can take a few games to find an offensive rhythm. Gonzaga has lost some nice producers, but it has all the tools and talent to seamlessly play the same efficient style that resulted in a 31-2 record last season. The Bulldogs should cover this time. Then we can hope for an NCAA tournament rematch. Selection: Gonzaga -4
Gonzaga Bulldogs Men’s Basketball, Kansas Jayhawks Men’s Basketball, College Basketball, NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, Bill Self, West Coast Conference
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