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The Gonzaga Bulldogs Are The “Best Of The West”

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

We debate the major points all the time and sometimes it just seems to drag on. One of my favorite questions we’ll ask throughout the college basketball year is which team “out west” is the best in the land and my selection so far isn’t just going to settle on grabbing that title.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs have been a sleeper Final Four pick for a long time and while I’m not going that far in 2012-2013, Mark Few has his best group in ages.

The home loss to the Illinois Fighting Illini emptied the Gonzaga bandwagon from standing room only to open seating. Cries over poor defense and lack of adjustments by Few were all over the place. Heck, I couldn’t even argue with them but something about this team is different. They are finally strong up front and athletic!

Kelly Olynyk, Sam Dower and Przemek Karnowski can all run the floor and finish at the rim. When you add Elias Harris into the bunch in a small lineup, I can’t see any team that can compete.

The only team that could even play night in and night out with the Zags is the Arizona Wildcats. The backcourt of Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson is excellent and would probably cause issues for the smaller and less athletic duo of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. However, these teams aren’t truly going head to head. I look at my article as a projection to the future from now till March Madness. That’s why Gonzaga will pose the biggest threat.

They certainly though have to work on the defensive end of the floor. So far some of the major issues are generally correctable to my eyes. One glaring flaw is allowing a trailing shooter to stay open in transition. We saw that against the Illini when Brandon Paul went nuts and the Baylor Bears with Pierre Jackson. That’s just simple communication and knowing your responsibility.

I frankly wouldn’t mind seeing Few experiment with a zone and given the conference his team plays in, they can afford too. What about a 1-3-1 zone with Bell Jr on top? The length in the middle would certainly pose a major threat and it allows you to “hide” Pangos on the bottom.

There are other things about this team you can nitpick such as free throw shooting but in a year with no dominant teams in college basketball, I don’t see any reason why the Zags can’t finally live up to the hype.

Like my article? Hate it? Let me know on Twitter (@tmichaelcronin). I look forward to your thoughts.