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No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Norfolk State preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The Gonzaga Bulldogs and Norfolk State Spartans meet at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Will Gonzaga win the NCAA tournament?

Update March 19: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Norfolk State as of March 19th at 10:30 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Gonzaga -33.5: 59% of handle, 63% of bets
Norfolk State +33.5: 41% of handle, 37% of bets

Over 154.5: 46% of handle, 44% of bets
Under 154.5: 54% of handle, 56% of bets


The No. 1 overall seed and betting favorite Gonzaga Bulldogs will get their NCAA Tournament started on Saturday, March 20th with a first round matchup with the No. 16 seed Norfolk State Spartans. Norfolk State survived Appalachian State Mountaineers in Thursday’s First Four matchup, but as you might imagine, Gonzaga is favored by a significant margin in this game, which is set to begin at 9:20 p.m. ET from Bankers Life Fieldhouse. You can check this one out on TBS.

No. 1 Gonzaga: 26-0 (15-0 West Coast): Auto bid

KenPom rating: 1 overall, 1 offense, 9 defense
NET ranking: 1, (8-0 vs. quad 1)
Leading scorer: Corey Kispert 19.2 ppg
Key stat: Corey Kispert is shooting 54.4% from the floor, 44.4% from three-point range and 89.8% from the free throw line.

There’s not a whole lot to say about this Gonzaga team you haven’t heard already. The Bulldogs are very good and probably the best team in college basketball. They came into the season ranked No. 1 and never moved from that spot.

Watch for Gonzaga to pull some key players early to avoid injury as much as possible.

No. 16 Norfolk State: 17-7 (8-4 MEAC): Auto bid

KenPom rating: 200 overall, 204 offense, 222 defense
NET ranking: 170 (0-0 vs. quad 1)
Leading scorer: Devante Carter 15.5 ppg
Key stat: Norfolk State shoots 36.8% from the three-point line, which is the best in the MEAC.

The Spartans came away with the win 54-53 win over Appalachian State on Thursday night in the First Four, but the difference between Appalachian State and Gonzaga is about as big as it gets in the NCAA Tournament. Jalen Hawkins scored 24 points to lead Norfolk State in a 54-53 win, but he and the Spartans need to play the game of their lives to keep it close with Gonzaga.

Watch for Norfolk State to play a slower style than they usually come out with. The Spartans tend to speed the game up, but they will need to limit possessions as much as possible to keep this one close.

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point spread: Gonzaga -32
Point total: 154.5
Moneyline: N/A

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Gonzaga -32
Point total pick: Over 154.5
Pick to Win: Gonzaga

The Bulldogs are more used to massive point spreads than any team in college basketball, so this is nothing new. After coasting its way through a West Coast Conference schedule, the NCAA Tournament is finally here for Gonzaga, and the Bulldogs should be ready to put on a show. The fact Norfolk State is a high-possession team is going to hurt the Spartans here because they’ll give Gonzaga more opportunities to extend their lead. Let’s go with the Bulldogs to cover and the over to cash in this one.

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