The 2019 March Madness West Regional will come down to #3 Texas Tech squaring off against #1 Gonzaga with the winner advancing to the Final Four.

Brandon Clarke Gonzaga
Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke throws down a dunk against Baylor in a March Madness game in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Image: Gary Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

Texas Tech, led by sophomore guard Jarrett Culver, has been unstoppable in 2019 March Madness with an 18-point average margin of victory. Texas Tech has never been to the Final Four and only Gonzaga is standing in their way of making school history. The Raiders reached the Elite 8 last year for the first time, but lost to eventual champion Villanova by 12 points.

Gonzaga, led by the dynamic duo of Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke, is seeking their second Final Four berth in the last three seasons. The Zags also advanced to the Elite 8 for the third time since 2015 under head coach Mark Few. In twenty seasons at Gonzaga, Few guided the Zags to nine Sweet 16 appearances.

#3 Texas Tech (29-6) vs. #1 Gonzaga (33-3)
Tip-Off: 3:09pm
Location: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA
Point Spread: Gonzaga -4.5
Over/under: 138

The total for this Elite 8 game is only 137 points. Texas Tech is known for their stifling defense, which is ranked #3 in the nation. The Raiders allow only 58.7 points per game.

Texas Tech is 11-2 against the spread in their last 13 games. The under is 4-2 in Tech’s previous six games.

Gonzaga comes into this match up as a 4-point favorite. Gonzaga covered the point spread in five out of their last eight games. They were 28.5-point favorites over #16 Farleigh Dickinson in the Round of 64 and they won by 38 points. They were 14-point favorites over #9 Baylor, but only won by 12. In the Sweet 16, the Zags beat red-hot FSU by 14 points.

Texas Tech Raiders Making History

Chris Beard amassed a 74-30 record as head coach of Texas Tech. In just three seasons in Lubbock, Beard made consecutive Elite 8 appearances. Between 2001 and 2011, Beard worked as an assistant coach at Texas Tech under the legendary coach Bob Knight and later for his son, Pat Knight.

Texas Tech beat #14 Northern Kentucky by 15 points, which was the slimmest margin of victory for them in March Madness. In the Round of 32, Texas Tech picked off #6 Buffalo by 20 points. In their Sweet 16 match up against #2 Michigan, the Wolverines struggled to score all game. They were held to only 44 points as the Raiders cruised to a 19-point victory.

Tech’s Jarret Culver leads team in scoring with 18.9 points per game. He also leads the team in assists with 3.8 per game and adds 6.4 rebounds. Culver, a 6-foot-5 sophomore from Lubbock, Texas, is a bona fide lottery pick. He’s probably the best guard in the country who is not named Ja Morant, or does not wear a Duke uniform.

Culver stepped up his scoring output in March Madness with 22.3 points per game. He dropped 29 against Northern Kentucky on 10-for-17 shooting. Culver’s sole weak spot is his three-point shooting. He’s only 4-for-20 from downtown in his last four games.

Don’t Sleep on Brandon Clarke

Gonzaga is one win away from the Final Four. Their only other Final Four appearance occurred in 2017. The Zags went all the way to the championship game but lost to Roy Williams and North Carolina.

Gonzaga averages 88.2 points a game, but they will be facing one of the best defenses in the country. The Zags are no slouch themselves on the defensive side of the ball. They allow 64.4 points per game, which is 30th best in the nation.

Rui Hachimura, originally from Japan, leads Gonzaga in scoring with 19.6 points per game. Hachimura is on everyone’s radar and his name appears on many NBA mock drafts. However, Brandon Clarke has emerged as a legit star. The highly-efficient Clarke connects on a team-leading 68.7 percent of his shots.

Clarke, 6-foot-8 junior forward, is one of the best players you’ve never heard about. He averages 16.9 points, which is second-best on the team leads the Zags in rebounding (8.4 per game), blocks (3.1 per game), and steals (1.4 per game).

Clarke shot 83 percent against Baylor and lit up the Bears for 36 points. He’s averaging 21 points per game in March Madness.

According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, Gonzaga is 2/1 odds to win March Madness. Texas Tech is currently listed as 71 odds to win the men’s college basketball championship.

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