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No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Norfolk State/Appalachian State preview for NCAA Tournament first-round matchup

No. 1 Gonzaga will face either No. 16 Norfolk State or No 16 Appalachian State in the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament. We’ve got an initial preview of what and how to watch following Selection Sunday.

Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Corey Kispert, guard Julian Strawther, guard Jalen Suggs and forward Drew Timme celebrate after defeating the the BYU Cougars in the West Coast Conference Tournament championship game at Orleans Arena. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Tournament begins on Thursday, March 18th with the First Four, and then moves on to the first round on Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16. No. 1 seed Gonzaga will face the winner of a play-in game between No. 16 seeds Norfolk State and Appalachian State in the first round. Game time has yet to be announced but we will update this article with that and game odds as soon as it comes available. For now, we’ve got a preliminary preview of the two teams to get you ready for March Madness!

Once the odds from DraftKings Sportsbook are made available for this game, we’ll add that information below. We’ll also add the game time and TV channel once it’s settled.

Game date: Saturday, March 20
Game time: 9:20 p.m.
TV channel: TBS
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis

Odds: TBD

No. 1 Gonzaga

The No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have bulldozed their way to an undefeated 30-0 mark so far and both West Coast Conference championships. No team has come within double digits of them since West Virginia lost 67-62 on December 2nd, and they lead the nation in effective field goal percentage at 61.2%.

Corey Kispert (19.2 ppg), Drew Timme (19.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg) are the big men that can play both inside as well as shoot the three, and five-star freshman Jalen Suggs (13.9 ppg) gives them a level of athleticism and skill on both ends of the court previous Gonzaga teams have lacked. They’ll be heavy favorites all the way to Indianapolis, and by the advanced metrics should handle everyone in their path until Baylor in the final.

Record: 26-0, 15-0 WCC
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 1
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 11
ATS: 12-12-2
Over Total: 14-12
Odds to win NCAA Championship: +215

No. 16 Norfolk State/Appalachian State

The Norfolk State Spartans are returning to the NCAA Tournament after they defeated the Morgan State Bears 71-63 in the MEAC championship game. The Spartans head into the big dance on a four-game winning streak. Norfolk State finished the regular season with a record of 16-7 and the best team in the MEAC’s North Division. They are also averaging 75.4 points per game and holding their opponents to only 69.5 points per game. The Spartans rank within the top-100 in terms of rebounding with 37.1 rebounds a game.

The two players for the Spartans to keep an eye out for is senior guard Devante Carter and junior guard Joe Bryant Jr. Carter leads the team in all major statistical categories with 15.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game. As for Bryant Jr., he is averaging 11.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.1 steals per game.

Record: 15-4, 8-4 MEAC
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 204
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 219
ATS: 12-8-1
Over Total: 12-9
Odds to win NCAA Championship: N/A

The Mountaineers are heading back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000 after winning the Sun Belt tournament as the No. 4 seed. Finishing the regular season losing four of their final five games, coach Dustin Kearns’ team went on a hot streak and won four in a row, two of which came in overtime, to capture the Sun Belt’s automatic bid.

App State actually ranks on the lower side of all teams in terms of offensive and defensive efficiency metrics. The Mountaineers are 207th and 203rd in the nation in those, respectively and came into the Sun Belt Tournament sitting just barely above .500. Adrian Delph and Justin Forrest lead the team with 13 points per game each, and they’ll both need to do even more for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

Record: 17-11, 7-8 Sun Belt
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 228
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 205
ATS: 14-9-1
Over Total: 11-13
Odds to win NCAA Championship: +20000