The Gonzaga Bulldogs may not earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament for a second straight season, but they will still be challenging themselves in their non-conference schedule. So, who will be the Bulldogs’ toughest opponent in the 2013-14 college basketball season?
The Maui Invitational will not be easy whatsoever and there is a chance that Gonzaga will have to play Syracuse. Heck, even a matchup against Baylor would be brutal. That matchup really should happen in the second round of the Maui.
Still, games against Baylor and Syracuse are not set in stone, so let’s pick out of the games that will actually happen. In comes the Memphis Tigers.
Memphis won 31 games last season and it should be even better in the upcoming season. I doubt that the team will win 31 games yet again (a run in the AAC tournament and in the Big Dance would change that), but the Tigers will be even more talented regardless, especially with Missouri transfer Michael Dixon joining the team.
The Tigers will be playing in the AAC, which is probably much tougher than the Conference USA, but just probably. They will also have a brutal non-conference schedule.
It does help that they will have one of the best backcourts in the nation, though.
As for Gonzaga, it will be taking a huge hit in the frontcourt. Both Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris will no longer be on the team. Olynyk averaged 17.8 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game last season. Elias averaged 14.6 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. So yeah, big, big losses.
There will be some talent returning, though, and the Bulldogs should wind up winning the WCC… again. The matchup against Memphis could be the toughest of the season. That includes conference play as well.