What to watch for
MARCH MAVENS: Gonzaga is in the NCAA tournament for the 16th straight year and the 17th time in school history. The Bulldogs have won at least one game in each of their last five appearances. They last advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in 2006. The Zags’ lone appearance in the Elite Eight was in 1999, when their current streak of NCAA appearances began.
THE REMATCH: Gonzaga beat Oklahoma State 69-68 on Dec. 31, 2012, at Stillwater to run its overall record against the Cowboys to 5-0. Smart and Pangos each scored 23 points.
ADVANTAGE, ZAGS: Gonzaga will have a height advantage over the Cowboys, with 7-foot-1 center Przemek Karnowski and 6-9 forward Sam Dower Jr. Oklahoma State’s tallest starters are 6-8 post Kamari Murphy and 6-7 wing Le’Bryan Nash. “It’s definitely a strength,” Dower said. “I would say our focus is our defense.”
COWBOYS ROLLING: Oklahoma State has won five of its last seven games, a run that coincided with the return of Smart on Feb. 22. “We came together as a team,” Brown said. “We put all of our egos aside and we came together as one.” OSU’s two losses in that span were both in overtime, 77-70 to Kansas in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals and 85-81 at Iowa State on March 8.
OVERLOOKED?: Gonzaga guard David Stockton — John’s kid — notes that Oklahoma State was a Top 10 team earlier this season and calls Smart “an electric player. ... Obviously we’re going to get overlooked a little bit and that’s how we started, that’s how Gonzaga started, and it’s fine with us,” Stockton said.