Gonzaga vs Florida ! While last year’s national finalists Gonzaga are looking to advance to the Elite Eight for the third time in four years, Florida State is seeking to return to the regional final for the first time since Bob Sura and Sam Cassell were manning the backcourt (1993).
Their Sweet 16 matchup Thursday night at the Staples Center is scheduled to start at about 10:07 p.m. ET (25 minutes after the conclusion of Michigan vs Texas A&M, which starts at 7:37 p.m. ET) and will be broadcast nationally on TBS. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch the game, as well as other NCAA tournament games, live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Hulu With Live TV: In addition to their extensive Netflix-like streaming library, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live channels, including TBS and CBS. You can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV” right here, and you can then watch a live stream of the game on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
DirecTV Now: TBS is included in all of DirecTV Now’s four main channel packages. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, plus you can get a free Amazon Fire TV if you prepay one month. Once signed up, you can watch the game live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
Sling TV: TBS is included in both the “Sling Blue” and “Sling Orange” channel packages. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial of either, and you can then watch the game live on your computer via the Sling TV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app.
Note: You can also watch any tournament game on your computer via the March Madness Live website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the March Madness Live app. To watch these streams, you’ll have a free preview before needing to sign in to a TV provider to keep watching, but if you don’t have cable, you can do this by logging in with your Hulu credentials.
After losing their top three scorers (Nigel Williams-Goss, Przemek Karnowski, Jordan Mathews) and a burgeoning freshman star (Zach Collins) from last year’s national finalist team, Gonzaga entered this season with their lowest ranking (still 18th, so this is all relative) since the 2012-13 campaign. Yet here we are, with the Bulldogs looking at a favorable path to the Final Four in the somewhat decimated West region.
That said, it hasn’t been an easy path to the Sweet 16. Gonzaga got everything they could handle from 13th-seeded UNC Greensboro in the first round, needing a clutch late three from Zach Norvell Jr. to finally put away the upset-minded Spartans. The Round of 32 matchup against Ohio State was another back-and-forth affair, and the Bulldogs’ win probability was as low as 25 percent when they trailed by five points with six minutes remaining, but Norvell was again there to hit a couple huge threes down the stretch to help Gonzaga carve out the 90-84 win.
While it hasn’t been convincing, there were some positives to come out of the first weekend for Mark Few’s squad. The freshman Norvell has been huge, hitting 8-of-19 from beyond the arc on his way to 43 points in two games. Sophomore Rui Hachimura, a potential first-round pick, poured in 25 points on 11 field-goal attempts with four blocks against Ohio State after a disappearing act against UNC Greensboro. When these two underclassmen are able to complement Johnathan Williams and Josh Perkins like that, Gonzaga’s offense is incredibly difficult to stop. And if sophomore Killian Tillie gets back to how he was playing during the WCC Tournament (he went a ridiculous 13-of-14 from three in those three games but is 0-for-4 from deep so far in the Big Dance), forget about it.
And that’s what makes this matchup so intriguing, as Florida State has been playing some tremendous defense this tournament. The Seminoles held future lottery pick Michael Porter Jr. and Missouri to 0.783 points per possession (the Tigers’ second-lowest mark of the season) in a first-round blowout, then followed that up by limiting No. 1 seed Xavier, owners of one of the most efficient offenses in the nation, to 0.986 points per possession (the fifth lowest for the Musketeers this year).
Leonard Hamilton once had some of the best defensive teams in the country, and while they haven’t been nearly as efficient the last couple of years, the blend of size, athleticism and aggressive style always lays the groundwork for his teams to regain that identity. And they’re doing exactly that so far this tournament.
Gonzaga is favored by six points, but when you have an elite offense going up against a red-hot defense, anything can happen–especially in March.