There was a time when Gonzaga being revealed as an official choice for a No. 1 seed within the NCAA Event, even in a publicity-driven train whose precise worth is near zero, would have certified as extraordinary.
Gonzaga gained 328 video games and misplaced 90 in its first 13 seasons beneath Mark Few and by no means climbed all the best way to the highest line on the official March Insanity bracket. Since 2013, it’s occurred twice — extra instances than Duke, Kentucky and every other faculty within the SEC, Massive Ten or Pac-12 have been a No. 1 seed.
When the Zags confirmed up Saturday as the ultimate No. 1 seed on the NCAA choice committee’s now-annual bracket projection, nonetheless, there was sure to be some backlash to that revelation. Why? As a result of, frankly, Gonzaga performs within the West Coast Convention, which has neither soccer nor the cash that comes with it.
It principally was Twitter dialog, however a few of it was harsh.
— Dunks & Downs (@dunksanddowns) February 9, 2019
Lol when will folks find out about Gonzaga
— Kevin Watson (@watdson) February 9, 2019
Remind me what good groups Gonzaga has performed after the start of the season
— legion | baam (@baamfn) February 9, 2019
Gonzaga will get this response yearly no matter its seed, which has been a No. 1 or No. 2 in three of the earlier six seasons. In reality, the Bulldogs are one among 13 packages to make 4 consecutive Candy 16s because the event bracket expanded in 1985. Theirs is the one program with an energetic streak of that size.
The Bulldogs’ presence on the highest line was the one matter, although, that prompted any kind of stir within the committee’s unveiling of the highest 16 seeds.
In the event you had any motive to dispute Duke’s presence atop this listing because the No. 1 general of the February seeds, by the early night Saturday you certainly didn’t. The Blue Devils’ highway document previous to dealing with Virginia in Charlottesville was nothing particular (solely Florida State resonated), however their listing of neutral-court conquests (Kentucky, Texas Tech, Auburn) and people at residence (Virginia, St. John’s) greater than compensated. Their excellence Saturday towards No. Three Virginia was an exclamation level to the choice committee’s assertion.
The day’s occasions left us with two massive questions relating to the NCAA bracket reveal on Choice Sunday:
1. May Gonzaga lose its No. 1 seed? After what we noticed Saturday evening in Spokane, it seems extraordinarily unlikely. The Bulldogs are tearing at an unprecedented degree via a West Coast Convention that’s a lot better top-to-bottom than in any current season.
The WCC has 5 groups ranked within the KenPom prime 100 and just one group decrease than 200, however Gonzaga’s margin of victory towards this league is the perfect any group has delivered in any convention via the previous 20 years.
Via 9 video games, the Zags have been outscoring WCC opponents by a median of 29.2 factors, almost three factors higher than the next-best in any Division I league since 1998. That was earlier than they pushed their common league victory margin forward 31.1 with a 94-46 destruction of league rival Saint Mary’s.
The Gaels are KenPom’s No. 45 group, the No. 12 within the nation in offensive effectivity and misplaced to SEC contender LSU by solely 4 factors on a impartial courtroom. And so they have been aggressive towards the Zags for roughly 39 seconds, shortly falling behind by two buckets as Gonzaga ultimately ran off the sport’s first 11 factors and constructed leads of 23-9, 32-12 and 50-20.
Gonzaga already has gained at BYU, and that’s an opponent that has overwhelmed the Bulldogs 4 instances since 2014. They’ll play once more Feb. 23, nevertheless it appears unlikely the Cougars might go to the Kennel and reverse a 30-point defeat. The one obvious impediment is that solely two of as many as eight remaining video games (4 on the highway, doubtlessly two within the WCC Event) shall be at Gonzaga’s residence.
Nothing to this point means that any of this could possibly be an issue. That leaves just one potential pitfall: ennui.
2. May the Zags have the No. 1 seed taken from them? That is unlikely, however not not possible. Whereas groups resembling Virginia, Michigan and Kentucky have the potential so as to add to their respective stockpiles of high quality victories, Gonzaga solely can accumulate stable outcomes. There is just one scheduled alternative for a Quadrant-1 victory, when the group makes its March 2 go to to Saint Mary’s. There could possibly be one or two extra alternatives within the WCC Event.
Nevertheless, Saturday’s bracket reveal positioned two groups from the ACC in 1-seed positions, and it appears unlikely — although not not possible — that one convention might place two groups on the prime of the bracket this season.
Kentucky was the No. 5 general seed within the early bracket, and whereas it might proceed to climb to problem Gonzaga’s place at No. Four, it’s extra possible the Wildcats will battle with SEC chief Tennessee, the AP Ballot’s No. 1 group, for one of many 4 No. 1 seeds. They play Saturday in Lexington and can rematch March 2 in Knoxville. Kentucky is 6-2 towards Q-1 with six scheduled Q-1 opponents; Tennessee is Four-1 with six extra such video games.
Following its residence loss to Duke, Virginia is 6-2 in Q-1 video games, with six Q-1 opponents remaining on the schedule. Michigan is 5-2 with seven remaining. Michigan State is 9-Three with 4 remaining. That’s the place the true competitors is prone to be.
The Wolverines are, in the meanwhile, the Massive Ten’s greatest candidate for a No. 1 seed. Michigan State’s 5 general losses to this point will make it troublesome for them to barge into the dialog, however a profitable streak that features a sweep of rival UM would make it troublesome to disregard them.
Gonzaga can proceed to lord over the WCC whereas all this chaos transpires round them. They seem like protected because the No. 1 seed within the West.