Unfortunately for Gonzaga, even if they do appear as the number one team in the next edition of the College Basketball rankings, people still won’t consider them a real #1 seed, for the fact that they play in the WCC and that they’ve lost two of their three games against ranked teams this season.
And that’s true – Butler and Illinois beat Gonzaga earlier this season, but the Zags have gone on to win all of their conference games, completing a fantastic 16-0 season in the WCC. They obviously play a softer schedule than what teams in the Big Ten have to go through, but their dominance in wins and obvious improvement as the season has progressed leaves no doubt that despite being a mid-major who doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to impress, Gonzaga deserve to be up there with whoever it is they consider to be the “real” top teams in the nation.
It’s never happened here before. It would be an honor. If they think that highly of us, we’ll take it. At the end of the day it would be pretty cool for Gonzaga to be No. 1. My first year here we won four Division I games. We want to go to the NCAA tournament and try to win the thing. Everything else is talk if you don’t play well.
So, after beating Portland (81-52), the second worst team in the conference, Gonzaga feel confident that this is they year. Not having a superstar like Adam Morrison seven years ago doesn’t hurt, it probably helps. Elias Harris, scoring 20 points and adding 9 rebounds and 4 steals is enough of a star for Gonzaga, who seem to be slightly overwhelmed by actually doing so well in the conference, with two wins against their main competition, Saint Mary’s, and winning 12 consecutive games to close out the season, following a tough one point loss at Butler.
Kelly Olynyk, the other “star” on this team, had a good night with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Gonzaga rule the Northwest at the moment, and teams in the WCC probably want to see them finish as the number one team, because it speaks more highly about their conference. Eventually, AP Polls and basketball rankings mean nothing – they’re just the view and opinion of the media and head coaches on what they think at the moment is the balance of power in the sport. There’s no way they get it right, but justice is usually done, more or less, with the top of the pile in the 68 teams that make it into the NCAA tournament.
They are a very good basketball team without many, any, weaknesses. Right now, given what’s going on, I think they should be No. 1.
Going into their 15th consecutive NCAA tournament, Gonzaga will probably miss the support of their home fans, all 6,000 of them that usually cram into McCarthey Athletic Center. Since it opened in 2004, the Bulldogs are 120-8 at their home stadium. Their only home loss this season came at the hands of Illinois. If they are as good as some think they are this season, maybe they’ll finally make the final four for the first time, missing the Elite Eight since 1999, when their NCAA tournament streak began.