West Virginia at Gonzaga (-10)
Two teams that faced each other in last season’s NCAA tournament square off late Monday night when No. 22 Gonzaga hosts West Virginia in an Old Spice Classic play-in game. The Bulldogs cruised to a 77-54 victory over the Mountaineers in the Round of 64 and have more familiar faces returning than reloading West Virginia. Gonzaga opened its season Friday with a 103-65 trouncing of Southern Utah but knows the Mountaineers will provide a much truer test. “We’ll have to play very, very good,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. “It will be a tough one. We are going to have to be at our toughest level.” West Virginia has made the NCAA tournament in each of Bob Huggins’ five seasons as coach.
TV: 11:59 p.m. ET, ESPN.
ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA (2011-12: 19-14): The Mountaineers are mixing three transfers into the mix to deal with the losses of Kevin Jones (19.9 points, 10.9 rebounds) and Darryl “Truck” Bryant (16.9 points) from last year’s squad. Sophomore point guard Juwan Staten (Dayton) will run the offense and 6-foot-10, 250-pound junior center Aaric Murray (La Salle) brings good size to pair with 6-foot-9, 260-pound holdover Deniz Kilicli (10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds). The third transfer is senior swingman Matt Humphrey (Boston College). West Virginia hopes to see improvement from sophomore guard Jabarie Hinds, who averaged 7.4 points last season but shot just 41.9 percent.
ABOUT GONZAGA (1-0): The Bulldogs were hardly challenged by Southern Utah in their opener. Gonzaga forced 28 turnovers and received a big effort from 7-foot-1, 305-pound Polish import Przemek Karnowski, who scored 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting in his college debut. “He’s got good feet,” Few said. “He’s getting there. It’s going to be a week-by-week process.” Junior guard Guy Landry Edi scored 16 points and junior center Sam Dower added 15 as six players scored in double figures.
* Bulldogs are 6-0 ATS in their last six home games.
* Under is 4-0 in Mountaineers’ last four road games.
* Under is 4-1 in Mountaineers’ last five Monday games.
* Bulldogs are 4-0 ATS in their last four non-conference games.
1. The NCAA tournament matchup marks the only previous time the two programs have met, but Huggins coached against the Zags twice when he was at Cincinnati.
2. Gonzaga has a streak of 15 consecutive 20-win seasons.
3. West Virginia is opening on the road for the first time since winning at James Madison to start the 2003-04 season.