Gonzaga used to be the NCAA tournament darling – the team that would pull off a few surprising upsets and serve as the perfect example of what March Madness is all about.
But now the Bulldogs are the hunter rather than the hunted. Winning a game or two in the NCAA tournament is no longer good enough.
It’s all about winning a national championship.
The Bulldogs’ latest win was a 77-60 win over St. Mary’s Thursday night, inching closer to the West Coast Conference championship that St. Mary’s ripped out from underneath them a season ago.
Gary Bell Jr. torched the net for 20 points, Kevin Pangos lit up the scoreboard for 18 points and Kelly Olynyk dropped in 17 points as the Bulldogs stayed unbeaten in conference play and pushed their overall record to 24-2. Pangos was thrilled about the win, which gives Gonzaga a shot to win the WCC crown after having its 11-year run ended by the Gaels a year ago.
”It means a lot to me and the guys who haven’t gotten one yet since we’ve been here,” Pangos said in a post-game press conference. ”It was huge for us. Now we’re that much closer to getting that conference title we didn’t get last year when they took it away from us.”
The Bulldogs have high expectations for this season, expectations that rise above and beyond winning a conference championship. Gonzaga is the team to beat in the WCC and it could very well be a tough team to beat come March.
The Bulldogs are no longer tournament darlings. They are a driven team determined to win the national championship.
Brian Lester is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow me on Twitter @BLester1993.