Chet Holmgren and the Gonzaga Bulldogs will continue their pursuit of the school’s first national championship Thursday.
After an 82-78 second-round victory over the Memphis Tigers, Gonzaga faces 17th-ranked Arkansas (27-8) with an Elite Eight berth on the line Thursday.
Holmgren, a freshman big man, has dazzled fans this season. A preseason favorite to be the top pick in the NBA draft, Holmgren has since cemented that status. He stands out for his defensive ability and shot-blocking dominance.
In a recent article by college basketball analyst Seth Davis of The Athletic, Davis praised Holmgren:
“Holmgren has been so famous for so long, and he has been so good this season, that we tend to forget that he is a 19-year-old kid.”
All eyes will be on Gonzaga freshman Chet Holmgren
With the Gonzaga Bulldogs (28-3) ranked first nationally, fans will be watching to see what Holmgren can do.
Although Gonzaga won its first two games of the tournament, it hasn’t been as impressive as some might have expected from the No. 1 overall seed. Gonzaga struggled in the first half of both games, including trailing Memphis by 10 points at halftime Saturday.
While Holmgren has showcased his elite defensive ability, his offensive game has lagged some in recent games.
In his last five games, Holmgren has averaged 11.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game. While the averages are solid, Holmgren has struggled with his outside shooting, specifically from beyond the arc. He’s had a bit of a cold streak after shooting 41.9% from 3-point range in his previous six games.
If Gonzaga is going to make a deep tournament run, it is going to need Holmgren to pick it up on offense.
This season, the 19-year-old big man is averaging 14.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game, while shooting 60.9%, including 39.2% from 3-point range.
The four top seeds in the West advanced to the Sweet 16 in San Francisco, California.
Ninth-ranked Duke (30-6), the No. 2 seed in the West, faces 12th-ranked Texas Tech (27-9), the No. 3 seed in the West, in the other semifinal. The winners meet Saturday for a spot in the Final Four in New Orleans.
Gonzaga has already played Duke and Texas Tech on neutral floors this season. Duke beat Gonzaga 84-81 on Nov. 26 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gonzaga topped Texas Tech 69-55 on Dec. 18 in Phoenix, Arizona.