Who has the edge in the match ups today and who will win?
On Saturday night the UCLA Bruins will take on the number 9 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs at the Pauley Pavilion. The game is set to tip off at 10:00 PM ET on ESPN2.
Gonzaga is 8-1 on the year and has already beaten SMU and St. Johns. The Bulldogs also lost in Arizona by three in overtime, a game in which they led for most of the second half.
The Bruins on the other hand are 8-2 and fell out of the top 25 after losing to Oklahoma and North Carolina in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. The Bruins have not beat a quality opponent like the Bulldogs and will look to get a big win for their resume.
For the Bruins, Bryce Alford is off to a terrific start this year. The sophomore point guard has been one of the most improved point guards in the country. Alford is averaging 17.5 points and 7.1 assists.
Gonzaga senior point guard Kevin Pangos is a talented guard as well. Pangos is averaging 10.4 points and 5.4 assists. Pangos has shot at least 40% from three every season.
Edge: Despite Pangos having the edge in terms of experience, Alford holds the edge as he can go off for 20 points and 10 assists in any given game.
This matchup is an interesting one. Bruins guard Isaac Hamilton is one one the more inconsistent players you’ll find. At times Hamilton looks like a terrific guard that can be a special player and at times you wonder if he is even playing. Hamilton is averaging 11 points and 4 rebounds this season.
Gary Bell Jr on the other hand for Gonzaga is a hard nosed two guard. Bell is averaging 9.6 points and 3.6 rebounds this season. Bell is a great three point shooter (44%), so the Bruins must look out.
Edge: While Hamilton can stroke the three (40%) and will certainly be the better player, the edge goes to Bell Jr, but it is as close as it get.
This is arguably the most intriguing matchup, featuring Bruins guard Norman Powell and Bulldogs forward Byron Wesley.
Powell is playing out of position as he is a true shooting guard, but his strength and defensive ability makes it a smooth transition. Powell is averaging 17.9 points and 4.3 rebounds this season. Powell is also shooting 46% from three and is one of the better athletes in the country.
Wesley, a transfer from USC is enjoying his time in Gonzaga, as he is averaging 12.1 points and 5.4 rebounds.
Edge: The edge certainly goes to Powell here, as he has been as good as any wing in the country so far. Wesley is talented, but Powell is the superior player.
The power forward matchup features two of the better ones in the West coast. Bruins freshman forward Kevon Looney has been sensational, while the Bulldogs junior forward Kyle Wiltjer has been good in his own right.
Looney is averaging 13.9 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. He is an incredible rebounder and has a terrific understanding of the game.
Wiltjer is the opposite of Looney, he doesn’t like doing the dirty work as much, but he loves the outside. Wiltjer is averaging 16.4 points and 5.6 rebounds this season. He is also a 36% three point shooter not bad for a 6”10 power forward.
Edge: This matchup is even, Wiltjer is a better scorer at this stage, but Looney is a much better rebounder and defender.
At center you have two junior matching up, Tony Parker for the Bruins and Przemek Karnowski for the Bulldogs. Parker has gone a long way, the past few seasons. As a sophomore last season he averaged, 6.9 points and 4.4 rebounds. This season he has basically doubled those stats, 11.4 points and 8.1 rebounds.
One way to describe Karnowski, is that he is a giant. The 7”1 center from Poland is averaging 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.
Edge: Another matchup that you cant go wrong with either player.
The Bruins have the edge with their starting lineup, while the Bulldogs have the better bench. Domantas Sabonis, the Bulldogs sixth man can start on most teams. The Bruins will pull the upset win at home, with an energized crowd. Bruins win 76-74 in a nail-biter.