By Dan Charest @dannyacharest on March 17, 2014
This year the Gonzaga Bulldogs will be making their 16th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, which ties them with Wisconsin for the fourth longest active streak (the Zags and the Badgers still sit behind Michigan State, 17; Duke, 19; and Kansas, 25). Classic underachievers in March, the Zags, led by Kevin Pangos and Sam Dower, are poised to make a run at the Jesuit university's first national title in any sport.
The West Region is nothing like the more dreaded Midwest Region sitting below in the bracket. Plus, the West Region arguably has the weakest top seeds of any region in Arizona, Wisconsin, Creighton and San Diego State. If the Zags can get revenge on Arizona (remember the Wildcats' epic 96-95 double overtime win in the 2003 second round) they should have an easy ride to North Texas.
One of the most important aspects to a good run in March is having guards who can take over a game. Gonzaga's answer to that is Kevin Pangos, the team's most electrifying player whom averages 14.1 points, 3.7 assists and shoots 41.1 percent behind the arc. And if Pangos gets into some foul trouble, senior David Stockton can step up. The son of Gonzaga's most famous alum averages 7.5 points and a team-high 4.2 assists.
A few weeks back the Zags dropped back-to-back contests against two lower tier West Coast Conference foes. Now Gonzaga has won five straight by an average of 14.4 points. It is a good sign since the previous four champs won their conference tournament before the "Big Dance."
Four Bulldogs average in double figures (Kevin Pangos-15.0 points/game; Sam Dower-14.1; Gary Bell Jr.-11.2; Przemek Karnowski-10.2) and the squad scores 76.9/game (40th in the NCAA) and boasts a .498 field goal percentage, which is fifth in the land.
The former Gonzaga assistant is now in his 15th year at the helm of the program. Although the Zags have not been past the Sweet 16 under Mark Few, he does own a .802 winning percentage (401-99) which is the best active figure in college hoops and the fifth best of all time.
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