Friday, January 27, 2017

#CSOSuperSaturday previews- No. 3 Gonzaga/Pepperdine and Providence/Marquette

                                             Photo Credits: Marquette Athletics/AP Photo

The second #CSOSuperSaturday of the season commences with two great games from the Big East and West Coast Conferences.

No. 3 Gonzaga at Pepperdine, 7 p.m. PT, ESPN2/WatchESPN

In a week of upsets in college basketball with No. 1 Villanova, No. 2 Kansas, No. 4 Kentucky, No. 6 Florida State and No. 8 UCLA on the wrong end of the scoreboard, the No. 3 Gonzaga Bulldogs step into the spotlight as the de facto top team in the country at 21-0 overall.

Flying under the radar in the national media all season, Gonzaga stands atop of the Kenpom rankings as of Jan. 27 with three wins against current Associated Press top 25 teams (Florida, Arizona and Saint Mary’s).

The straw that has stirred the drink for Gonzaga is Washington transfer Nigel Williams-Goss. Williams-Goss has proven thus far to be the ultimate triple-threat with team-highs in points (15.0), assists (4.7) and steals per game (1.7).

The Bulldogs’ depth can also be credited to their success as four players average at least 10.7 points per game. Freshman forward Zach Collins’ defensive game has been a force to be reckoned with all season as he leads the Bulldogs with 5.7 RPG and 1.4 BPG.

Despite a 2-7 mark in West Coast Conference play and a 6-15 record overall, the Pepperdine Waves defeated the Portland Pilots 78-60 on Jan. 26, behind a double-double from Lamond Murray Jr. (22 points and 10 rebounds).

Murray Jr. is the son of 12-year former NBA veteran Lamond Murray and leads the WCC with 20.8 PPG in 21 games this season.

Providence at Marquette, 1 p.m. CT, Fox Sports Networks/Fox Sports Go

The front end of the #CSOSuperSaturday doubleheader showcases two teams going in opposite directions.

The Marquette Golden Eagles have won back-to-back games against top 10 teams, while the Providence Friars have dropped two straight overall and four of their last six overall.

The Golden Eagles look to build on a 5-3 Big East start (best since the 2011-12 season) as they are fresh off their first win over a No. 1 team in the regular season on Jan. 24 with a come-from-behind 74-72 win over the Villanova Wildcats.

Unselfish play has been Marquette’s key to success this season with five players averaging at least 11.2 points per game. Katin Reinhardt has been the main catalyst the last two games with 21 points at Creighton and 19 vs Villanova.

“For the most part, we have been a very unselfish basketball team,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said in Thursday's Big East teleconference. “One of the things we talked about from the very start with this team is that we can be unselfish and make sure the ball is always finding the best shot on each possession. On any given night, it can be a different guy who is our leading scorer and I think that is reflected in the balance of scoring we have in this group.”

Providence’s Rodney Bullock has proven to be the ultimate triple threat with team highs in points (17.8), rebounds (6.1) and steals per game (1.3).

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.