Two of the best college basketball teams west of the Rockies will face off in the Third Round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket. But, in one of the delightful ironies of the NCAA Tournament's geographic brackets, the BYU vs. Gonzaga game on the updated 2011 NCAA Tournament schedule is a Southeast Regional showdown, tipping off from Denver on Saturday at 7:45 p.m. Eastern.
For the Cougars, advancing is based on as simple concept: Jimmer Fredette will take them as far as he can. Fredette's 32 points helped BYU top Wofford in the Second Round, and made up for the rest of his cohort going 14-of-36 from the field. And, it should be noted, that wasn't even a great game from Jimmer, as he made only two three-pointers.
Gonzaga, on the other hand, has the more complete team at this point in the season. Robert Sacre and Elias Harris give the Bulldogs two solid scoring options, and the emergence of Marquise Carter on Thursday — he scored a career-high 24 points against St. John's — could give Gonzaga a third. The Zags will likely force BYU and Fredette to shoot its way into the Sweet Sixteen by controlling the paint.
Star Watch: Sacre will be the most important player on the court on Saturday. Fredette will get his points, but if Sacre can score at will against the BYU forwards, it might not matter.
Prediction: If Jimmer can score more than 40 points, BYU will win. He'll get 35, and the Cougars' Final Four dreams will go up in smoke in a 79-76 loss.
Need help picking your bracket? Check out SB Nation's full 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket predictions, picking every game of March Madness, or our region by region breakdowns for the East Region, West Region, Southeast Region, and Southwest Region.
Did your team miss the 2011 NCAA Tournament? We have you covered: check out the 2011 NIT bracket.