March 15, 2018

The Dance begins at Maples

Here is how the teams that will play rounds 1 and 2 at Maples match up statistically:

Stanford Gonzaga Missouri FGCU
Points per game 68.0 72.4 69.7 78.4
Scoring margin +6.5 +13.7 +9.4 +19.1
Field goal % .419 .437 .459 .441
3-pointers per game 7.0 4.8 7.9 12.0
3-point % .309 .294 .379 .361
Free throw % .639 .733 .757 .691
Rebounds per game 40.9 39.7 39.2 36.6
Rebounding margin +4.4 +4.9 +8.7 +1.7
Assists per game 13.7 14.5 16.0 16.7
Turnovers per game 14.5 13.5 14.8 12.1
Assist/turnover ratio 0.94 1.07 1.08 1.38
Steals per game 7.4 9.5 4.9 9.5
Blocks per game 5.2 3.6 3.9 1.6
Overall record 22-10 27-5 24-7 30-4
Conference record 14.3 17-1 11-5 13-1
RPI 13 34 24 47
Schedule strength 4 94 43 188

FiveThirtyEight gives Stanford an 89% chance of defeating Gonzaga and gives Missouri an 80% chance of defeating FGCU. The chance of advancing to the Sweet 16 is 74% for Stanford and 19% for Missouri.

  Gonzaga Bulldogs

The Zags earned an automatic bid to the NCAAs by winning the West Coast Conference (WCC) tournament. This is the second consecutive year that they've won both the tournament and regular-season titles.

They've been to the NCAA tournament nine times in the past 10 years, with four trips to the Sweet 16 and one to the Elite Eight.

The Zags are led by head coach Lisa Fortier, who took the reins from Kelly Graves four years ago. She has been named the WCC Coach of the Year three times.

The Zags and the Cardinal have played each other almost every season for the past nine years. The Zags won for the first time, 68-63, at Maples last season.

The Zag's leading scorer, redshirt junior forward Jill Barta, laid 26 points on the Cardinal that day and is looking forward to the rematch. Barta averages 18.8 points per game on 49% shooting. She also leads her team in rebounding (8.4 rpg) and blocks (1.0 bpg).

Junior forward Zykera Rice also scores in double digits at an average of 12.0 points per game and grabs 5.3 rebounds per game.

Here are Gonzaga's season statistics and roster

  Missouri Tigers

Mizzou earned its third consecutive at-large bid to the Big Dance by placing fourth in the tough Southeastern Conference (SEC) behind Mississippi State, South Carolina and Georgia.

This is its fifth invitation to the Big Dance. It advanced to the second round the past two seasons and to the Sweet Sixteen in 2001.

Mizzou is led by head coach Robin Pingeton, now in her eight season at the helm.

Junior guard Sophie Cunningham might be the best shooter at Maples this weekend. She averages 18.0 points per game at a rate of 53.8%. She takes almost half her shots from beyond the arc, sinking 2.3 per game at a rate of 46.6%, the third-best 3-point field goal percentage in the nation. And she makes 83% of her free throws — just under four per game.

Cunningham may also be the toughest player. She's received negative comments about her playing style in the social media, but her mother says, "Dang it, she’s not a dirty player. She’s hard-nosed. With that said, she’s feisty ... She won’t back down from a physical fight or a verbal fight. Even as a little girl Sophie always had to have the last word. And it's frustrating being on the other side."

Junior forward Cierra Porter leads the team in rebounding with 7.7 per game. She is just short of being their third double-digit scorer with 9.9 points per game.

Redshirt senior forward Jordan Frericks is Mizzou's second-best scorer and rebounder with 12.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

Here are Mizzou's season statistics and roster.

   Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) Eagles

Florida Gulf Coast has been a Division I program in the Atlanta Sun (ASUN) conference since the 2007-08 season, and has been eligible for postseason play since 2011-12. It has dominated the conference in those past seven years.

This is the fifth time that the Eagles have earned an automatic bid to the NCAAs by winning the ASUN tournament. They've advanced to the second round just once, in 2015.

The Eagles are also the ASUN regular season champion, which they have been for all but one of the past seven years.

Karl Smesko has been the head coach at FGCU ever since 2002-03, the program's first year (when it played in Division II). He has been named the ASUN Coach of the Year nine times in the eleven years that FGCU has been a member of the conference.

The Eagles' social media mantra is #RAININGTHREES. It's a style that Smesko has been preaching since he started coaching.

The Eagles have attempted 1126 3-pointers this season and made 407 of them — more than any other team in the nation. They've averaged the second-most 3-pointers per game (12.0, just shy of DePaul's 12.1).

The Eagles' barrage of treys is a team-wide performance.

Redshirt senior guard Taylor Gradinjan makes the most — 2.7 per game at a rate of 38.9%. This is Gradinjan's sixth season at FGCU. She has suffered two ACL tears, but has played more minutes this season than any FGCU player and has at least one 3-pointer in all but two games.

Senior forward Rosemarie Julien is close behind with 2.1 3-pointers per game at a rate of 35%, and is the team's top scorer with an average of 13.4 points per game.

Reshirt senior guard Jessica Cattani is the Eagles' most accurate 3-point shooter. She comes off the bench for about 14 minutes per game to sink 1.6 treys at a rate of 43.5%.

Sophomore forward Tytionia Adderly leads the team in rebounding with an average of 9.1 per game.

Here are FGCU's season statistics and roster.

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