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2017 Final Four: Players to watch for Gonzaga

The Bulldogs have quite a few quality players. They’re a No. 1 seed for a reason, after all.

Xavier v Gonzaga Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

We’re only three days away from the 2017 Final Four now, and anticipation continues to mount for what should be an entertaining night in Glendale, Arizona.

The South Carolina Gamecocks will obviously have their hands full when they take on the No. 1-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are arguably the best team remaining in the field thanks to terrific defense and a slew of talented players.

Here are just a few that South Carolina will have to watch for:

Nigel Williams-Goss

Saint Mary's v Gonzaga Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Williams-Goss is a Player of the Year candidate this season and for good reason. The former Washington Huskies guard put up outstanding numbers that were enough for him to land the West Coast Conference Player of the Year award. The former Findlay Prep star averaged 16.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists this year with a mark of 1.8 steals and just 2.1 turnovers per game to boot.

Williams-Goss’ defense has also been a big reason why he’s been so successful. He had 3.5 defensive win shares this season per and a defensive rating of just 85.2. He’s a lockdown defender and whomever he finds himself guarding will have to do their damnedest to crack the code, so to speak, when they go up against him.

Zach Collins

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Gonzaga vs Northwestern Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Collins is one of two 7-footers on Gonzaga that have gotten legitimate burn this year. He’s especially posed a threat inside where he’s shot the ball at a rate of 67.8 percent on 2-point opportunities. He’s utilized his outside shot limitedly but might pose a threat (he posted a mark of 45 percent on 20 3-point shots) and was a terrific rebounder too.

Like NWG, Collins’ defense has been terrific. His DRtg is just 79.6 and while he didn’t rack up enough minutes to qualify for the leaderboard, it’s safe to say that it’s not a fluke based on his play so far in the NCAA Tournament. The Gamecocks’ interior presence will have to play astutely well when they’re posed up against Collins to say the very least.

Przemek Karnowski

Xavier v Gonzaga Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Zags’ Polish big man is a fan favorite for many reasons (one being his stellar beard) and the dude can also ball. He put up career numbers in PPG this year with 12.2and shot 60.3 percent on 2-point opportunities, with 66 percent of those shots being converted at the rim. He was an adept rebounder this year (5.8 per game) and is most certainly a threat towards whomever is locked up against him.

The crazy thing about Karnowski is that he’s arguably not even played at his best level in the NCAA Tournament. His ORtg has greatly varied and wasn’t nearly at the rate that it was when the Zags were pummeling teams in the WCC. One could argue that he’s due to get it going and if that’s the case, South Carolina will need to do their damnedest to deny penetration and swarm towards him if he has the ball in his hands.

Other Notables

  • Johnathan Williams III: The former Mizzou Tiger is someone that SEC fans may remember. JW3 has balled out in the NCAA Tournament and played his tail off against the Xavier Musketeers in the Elite Eight, scoring 19, grabbing eight boards and posting three blocks in 33 minutes. We’ll see what he has in store for an encore.
  • Josh Perkins: Perkins is arguably the best 3-point shooter that the Zags have at their disposal. This season, NCAA Tourney included, the sophomore guard has shot 40 percent, giving him the best mark among players with qualified attempts on the Zags. His numbers aren’t where he wants them to be during the tourney, having shot 6-for-17 , but could be due for an outbreak when the Final Four begins. South Carolina would behoove themselves to watch him on the perimeter.
  • Jordan Mathews: Mathews has been consistently good in the NCAA Tournament run thus far. He’s averaged 13.5 points but has shot just 16-for-44 from the field so far. His season average would suggest that this is a dry spell for him and if he has a game like he did against South Dakota State, Mathews has the potential to be an X-Factor for Mark Few’s bunch.