The Gonzaga Bulldogs head to Portland, Oregon for their holiday tournament, potentially facing the likes of Duke, Purdue, West Virginia and Florida for the PK 85 Invitational.
Thursday, November 24
- Game 1: Duke vs. Oregon State, 12 p.m., ESPN
- Game 2: Florida vs. Xavier, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2
- Game 3: Purdue vs. West Virginia, 7 p.m., ESPN2
- Game 4: Gonzaga vs. Portland State, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Friday, November 25
- Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 12 p.m., ESPN
- Game 6: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 3 p.m., ESPN2/ESPNU
- Game 7: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 6 p.m., ESPNews
- Game 8: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 8:30 p.m. ESPN
Sunday, November 27
- Championship game, 12:30 p.m., ABC
- Third-place game: 4:30 p.m., ESPN
- Fifth-place match: TBD, TBD
- Seventh-place game: TBD, TBD
Portland State, 2-2, KenPom #261
The powers that be at Phil Knight’s factory want to make sure the Zags at least play in the second round on the right side of the bracket, pairing Gonzaga with the worst team in the area. If nothing else, the game should be fun (if you can stay up that late on a Thursday night). The Vikings are pushing the pace to the 21st-fastest pace in the country. That should bode perfectly for a Gonzaga team that also likes to run the ball.
Threat Level: Zero
Oregon State, 3-1, KenPom #239
Likewise, Duke should coast in the first-round game. In passing, Oregon State is actually the worst team in the contest because it just dropped a game to Portland State.
Threat Level: 1 out of 10
Florida, 3-1, KenPom #36
It would be pretty cool to play against the Gators with former USF coach Todd Golden at the helm. However, the existence of the opposite end of the bracket makes this quite difficult. The Gators will have to push past Xavier and then Duke. After four games this season, Florida looks like a work in progress. They dropped a close game at home against Florida Atlantic and largely beat weaker foes. Never count out a Todd Golden-coached team, though. He’s one of the brightest minds in the new era of hoops, and if anyone can figure out how to take his team further than he’s got the job, it’s him.
Threat Level: 2 out of 10
Xavier, 3-1, KenPom #34
Sean Miller is back in action! The former Arizona coach landed at Xavier and is trying to replicate that successful offensive style. So far, he’s had some success, albeit in rather strange ways. Xavier is a stellar outside shooting team in four games, fourth best in the nation, but also ranks No. 351 for FGA’s 3PA. Strange. However, the team can pass the ball, generating an assist on 72.1 percent of every field goal scored. Steady numbers or small sample size? We will probably see this tournament.
Threat Level: 2 out of 10
West Virginia, 4-0, KenPom #39
Bob Huggins recently said it would be a “wake-up call” for Gonzaga if they joined the Big 12 and played the teams West Virginia plays every day. While true, it would also be a wake-up call for Bob Huggins to beat Gonzaga at some point in his long and storied career. Gonzaga is 5-0 against West Virginia and until that happens I refuse to believe Huggins can actually win this game. Is the threat level under cocky? Sure. do i care Hardly.
Threat Level: Zero
Purdue, 3-0, KenPom #25
It will be a fascinating game of styles for Gonzaga on the second day of the tournament. Anchored by phenomenal big man and legitimate big human Zach Eddy, Purdue likes to slow it down and try to win the game in the half court. It was a great idea last year, except the defense wasn’t as good as the offense, and Purdue followed in Kentucky’s footsteps by losing to Saint Peter’s in the NCAA Tournament. No one has really stepped up to solidly fill the offensive void left by Jaden Ivey. Watching Edey try to stop Timme would be a treat, as would watching the entire Gonzaga squad try to stop him.
Threat Level: Four out of 10
Duke, 4-1, KenPom #9
The post-Coach K world began with an insane recruiting floor by almost any standard. John Scheier became the No. 2, 3 and 4 players in the 2022 class (according to 247 Sports). Of the seven commitments in the class, four are five-stars, two are four-stars, and Christian Reaves is just an “average” three-star.
That makes Duke a compelling matchup. For one thing, they are absolutely loaded with athleticism and talent. On the other hand, they are an incredibly young team with a first-year head coach. Kyle Filipowski was as advertised as a freshman, leading the team with 15 points and 11 boards. Jeremy Roach never saw a shot he didn’t like. Mark Mitchell, another star freshman, is third on the team in points.
Shire didn’t go crazy in planning without a conference. Duke’s first five games included four shutouts at home and Kansas in the Champions Classic. Against Kansas, it looked like Duke’s star power would be enough. Unfortunately, basketball games aren’t 35 minutes long, and Kansas outscored Duke 15-4 in the final four-plus minutes.
Right there is Duke’s conundrum. We’re all smart enough to know that the No. 1 recruiting class is a push, but it can also be an absolute mess early in the season. In addition to their seven freshmen, Duke has three incoming transfers, making for a team that could very well be the best team in the nation…in a few months.
However, what is more difficult to predict right now than Gonzaga? Kentucky may be “down,” but Gonzaga looked significantly different Sunday than it did against Texas a week ago. In some ways, I see a more experienced Gonzaga team dictating the tempo of the game in every aspect against Duke. I can also see Gonzaga totally shitting in bed. The beauty is that it is so early in the season.
Threat Level: 100% full coin flip.