| USA TODAY
Gleeson Guarantees: Best March Madness bets for Monday’s Elite Eight action
SportsPulse: Scott Gleeson picked Virginia to win it all in 2019. He called Loyola-Chicago as a Cinderella in 2018. Now he’s ready to give you his guarantees for Monday’s Elite Eight action.
Three down and three to go for unbeaten Gonzaga.
The No. 1-seeded Bulldogs advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament with a 83-65 defeat of No. 5 seed Creighton.
Drew Timme scored a team-high 22 points for Gonzaga, which will face the winner of the Oregon-Southern California game later Sunday.
A victory Tuesday against either the Ducks or Trojans would send the Bulldogs to their second Final Four in four tournaments and move them two wins from becoming the first unbeaten national champion since Indiana in 1976.
The last five unbeatens to enter the tournament since that Hoosiers team have fallen short of winning the title.
HOW ARE YOUR BRACKETS? A closer look at men’s, women’s Sunday results
The recipe against Creighton was similar to the other 28 victories by Gonzaga this year. The Bulldogs, the country’s top scoring team, had too much offensive firepower for the Bluejays, who hung around for much of the first half before falling behind the pace set by Gonzaga.
Timme and Andrew Nebhard had 12 points apiece as the Bulldogs led 43-33 at halftime. Creighton’s Marcus Zegarowski led all scorers in the first half with 13 points, but the rest of the team managed to shoot just 10 of 29 from the field.
“I really thought it was our defense that made the difference tonight. They’re a scary offensive unit, especially when you’re preparing for them,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said after the game. “I thought we did a really, really nice job, especially on the three line.”
The Bulldogs continued to push the pace in the second half. They scored eight of the first 10 points after the break. When Jalen Suggs hit a layup with 11:15 left, the lead was 20, and the drama of the game was over.
Zegarowski finished with a team-high 19 points for Creighton, which concluded an up-and-down season. Bluejays coach Greg McDermott was suspended for the final game of the regular season after making a racially insensitive comment to his team after a loss. However, they responded by reaching the Big East tournament final and then made their first Sweet 16 since 1974.
“Obviously, we’ve had to navigate through some tough stuff the last month together, and those were some challenging times, but when you have good people in your locker room, you have a chance to get through those tough times,” McDermott said after the game. “I’ll forever be indebted to them for accepting me for who I am and that I’m a person that makes mistakes and that I’m going to continue to work to be a better person as a result of my mistake.”
Follow colleges reporter Erick Smith on Twitter @ericksmith