If you can even consider them a mid-major at this point in the evolution of college basketball, Gonzaga has become the Star Trek of mid-majors, boldly going where no mid-major has gone before.
Before you ask if I have anymore mid-major/sci-fi metaphors, I don’t.
Now, not only was Gonzaga the first of its kind to not only become a fixture of the NCAA Tournament, but they were the first to rattle some brackets and do some damage along the way. After years of playing Cinderella, The Bulldogs woke up Monday to find out they were ranked No. 2 in the nation, the highest that the program has ever been ranked.
“It establishes us as a national program, which I believe we have been for the last 10 years,” said coach Mark Few, who’s been at the head of the program since 1999, after being an assistant coach for the prior 10 years. “This group has done a great job of competing at that level, winning games at the highest level.”
Gonzaga has become the first team outside the major six conferences to be ranked in the top two since Memphis was No. 2 in the final poll of the 2007-08 season, and considering that that Memphis team has since had it’s records voided (looking at you Derrick Rose), this is even more impressive for this Gonzaga team.
In all seriousness though, Few has recruited gems in college basketball greats like Adam Morrison, Dan Dickau, and Ronny Turiaf to name a few, and with stars on this seasons team like Kevin Pangos, Elias Harris, and potential Player of the Year candidate Kelly Olynyk, Few has his team in the right place at the right time.
What else is new?
“The polls mean a lot more this time of year than they do in November, December, even January. All of us are being judged on the true body of work. It’s definitely rewarding.”
Gonzaga’s high ranking is just another one of Few’s many achievements, as he was only the second head coach in the nation to make back-to-back Sweet 16’s in his first two years as a coach (since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985), and at the time, set the all-time record for NCAA Division I mens coaches by collecting 81 wins in his first three years as a head coach.
Could Few be the first coach of a mid-major to win a National Championship?
Whether or not it happens this season, I wouldn’t bet against it.
Just kidding Brad Stevens (but not really).
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