Forget what you think you have known about the Gonzaga Bulldogs over the years. This Zags team is likely the best Mark Few has ever trotted out on a court. Between having John Stockton’s son on the team, which is a neat novelty, Gonzaga has a slew of players any team in the nation would want, not just a few niche players who are dominating in a mid-major.
Sure, the WCC isn’t exactly the Big 10, but they aren’t a soft conference. In fact, they are closer to a power-conference than a mid-major. Example, the Saint Mary’s Gaels, who are finding themselves on the right side of the bubble at the moment. That doesn’t even include the BYU Cougars, who are also fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives. Not many mid-majors can claim that they have three teams all heading to the dance.
That makes the game on ESPN tonight very interesting. There is a Zags team who many are touting as Few’s best ever, squaring off against perennial conference power Saint Mary’s. This is two teams, both of which have incredible hoops programs, battling it out on the national stage. Watch them now however, if the Tournament Selection Committe’s history has taught us anything, they will put both these teams in very difficult positions to advance in the big dance.
But for the Zags, I don’t know if they can be further denied playing on the west coast. While they are yearly a team that has shown how good of a program they are, the Selection Committee continuously sends them east to play in the early rounds, putting an unwarranted disadvantage on the players. Tired, jet-lagged, and playing teams whose fans live a few miles away, it’s no shock that it has been hard for Gonzaga to make a deep tournament run.
Not this year though.
The Bulldogs are already ranked to high. In fact, they could be playing the rest of the season for a number one seed. And even if they don’t earn one of those, being a top-two seed should grant them seeding in the western seaboard. All of this will possibly setup the greatest Zags tournament run in their history.
Still, you should watch tonight. Learn the players on both teams, watch how talented the players are on both squads. That way, come March when Gonzaga is making a Final Four run, you can look really smart in a subject matter your girlfriend doesn’t care about.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports who primarily covers the Catholic Seven. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow Joe on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone