COACH: Mark Few, 11th year at Gonzaga, 11th year in NCAA Tournament
HOW THEY GOT IN: At-large bid
MATCHUP BREAKDOWN: Florida State likes to slow the pace and keep the score down, which is not to Gonzaga's liking, but it can play a halfcourt game pretty well when forced. The best individual matchup will be at the power forward spot, where Gonzaga freshman Elias Harris will go against 6-foot-9 Chris Singleton. The winner of that matchup could decide the game. The Seminoles should have the advantage in the matchup of the two 7-foot centers, because Florida State's Solomon Alabi -- a springy shot-blocker who won't make driving the lane a picnic -- might prove to be a little too quick and agile for Gonzaga's Robert Sacre. However, the Bulldogs have the clear edge at point guard where West Coast Conference player of the year Matt Bouldin will go against Florida State's Derwin Kitchen. The team that gets the game's tempo going to its liking should win the game.
GO-TO GUYS: Senior PG Matt Bouldin was the West Coast Conference Player of the Year and controls nearly everything the team does offensively and defensively. He is the one likely to have the ball at the end of a close game, either to create an opportunity for a teammate or shoot himself. He did not play particularly well in the conference tournament, however. Freshman F Elias Harris was the conference Newcomer of the Year, and he probably has more pro potential than anyone else in the conference. He might be a first-round NBA draft pick if he were to enter the draft this year, but he has said he will return to Gonzaga. An aggressive, powerful player, Harris can rebound or attack the basket effectively, but he can hit the occasional 3-pointer as well. Steven Gray was also an All-Conference pick, and his main contribution is as a 3-point shooter, but he is streaky.
THEY'LL KEEP WINNING IF: All the current regulars except for Harris have played in the NCAA tournament, and Harris has played at tough venues (at Memphis, at Michigan State, Illinois in Chicago, at St. Mary's), so there will be no intimidation factor for the Bulldogs. The pivotal player seems to be Steven Gray. When he shoots well, the Bulldogs win. When he struggles, so do the Bulldogs. He made more than 45 percent of his shots for the season and is a good 3-pointer shooter, but in the Bulldogs' five losses heading into the conference tournament, he went 14-for-55 from the field, including 3-for-25 from long range. Bouldin needs to rebound from his struggles in the conference tournament.
STRENGTHS: The Bulldogs seem to play their best against the best opposition, and they have been tested against tough opponents at difficult venues, so the stage will not bother the Bulldogs. Defense, balance and outside shooting have always been Gonzaga's staples, and those are strengths again this season. The biggest strength, though, is the presence of Bouldin, who has tons of experience and has an ability to lead his team through nearly every situation.
WEAKNESSES: Although they have improved their bench since the start of the season, the Bulldogs still lose a lot when a starter has to leave the game. Besides Harris and possibly Bouldin, this team does not have as much NBA-caliber talent as it has most years, and not nearly as much as it had last season, when Josh Heytvelt and Austin Daye were on the team. Gonzaga has been a streaky foul-shooting team, having some games in which it was simply lousy from the line. The Bulldogs have lost focus against a few teams it should have beaten, but that is unlikely to happen in the postseason. Generally, Gonzaga has not done as well as expected in recent NCAA tournaments, although it's difficult to pinpoint why. They are coming off a 19-point loss in the conference tournament, and the last time they lost in the conference tournament -- 2008 -- the Bulldogs lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.