NCAA Bracketology: Are the Gonzaga Bulldogs a No.1 Seed?


There are seven teams deserving of a No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and one of them is the Gonzaga Bulldogs

Any other year, the Gonzaga Bulldogs (28-1) are easily one of the top four teams in college basketball.

They may not be one of the best four teams, but on paper, their resume is one of the best four resumes in the country, which would result in the Zags securing a No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

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This season, the Bulldogs have lost one game, an overtime thriller against Arizona that Gonzaga should have won. Other than that blemish, Gonzaga has been perfect the rest of the season.

Best wins: SMU, UCLA, St. John’s, Georgia, St. Mary’s, BYU

While none of the Gonzaga’s wins are that impressive, you have to consider two things:

1. Gonzaga gets everyone’s best shot every time they take the court

The teams in the West Coast Conference give it their all to beat the Zags, simply, because of how dominant Gonzaga has been since Mark Few’s first season in 2000. In those 16 seasons, Gonzaga has won the conference outright 13 times, shared the title twice, and finished second once.

That doesn’t have anything to do with this season; however, the teams in the WCC spend their offseason dreaming about beating Gonzaga and making it to the NCAA Tournament. To survive night after night with that kind of pressure, it’s really unbelievable what Gonzaga has been able to do.

And, we saw that firsthand when the Zags met the Gaels on Saturday night. I’ve been watching Gonzaga regularly for years, and I’ve never seen a better atmosphere for a WCC game against Gonzaga. On top of that, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team more fired up to beat Gonzaga, which is why St. Mary’s jumped on the Zags to take a 40-29 lead into the half.

But, as we’ve seen with Gonzaga, they don’t go away.

So many teams would have folded after St. Mary’s extended the lead to 51-41 with 11 minutes remaining. From there, Gonzaga went on a 29-9 run to close out the game.

That’s what No.1 seeds do.

2. No one wants to play Gonzaga

As Grantland’s Mark Titus pointed out, there’s a reason why Gonzaga can’t play against many teams from bigger conferences. It has nothing to do with Gonzaga not wanting to play the “big dogs.” It’s simply because bigger schools don’t see value in getting their butts kicked by Gonzaga.

Teams in middle and bottom of the pack in the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, and even Pac-12 don’t see any reward playing Gonzaga because they’re likely going to get embarrassed. So, before you criticize Gonzaga for “not playing anyone,” think about what you’re actually saying.

It’s true Gonzaga has a weaker conference schedule than a team in the ACC, Big 12, or Big Ten, but are we sure the top of the WCC is that much different from the middle of the Pac-12, SEC, Big East, or Atlantic 10? I don’t see the bottom-feeders Kentucky is playing that much differently than the teams like BYU and St. Mary’s in the WCC.

And, that’s that.

It comes down to Wisconsin vs. Gonzaga 

There’s three teams, basically, who are already locks for No.1 seeds, in my mind: Kentucky (27-0), Virginia (25-1), and Duke (24-3).

Kentucky could lose three games and still deserve a No.1 seed. They’re in on the top line.

Two teams from the nation’s best conference deserve to be in. I understand how that could be problematic, especially with the likely conference winners in Arizona (24-3) and Villanova (25-2).

Regardless of their RPI and all those other ratings, Duke and Virginia have been two of the best three teams in college basketball this season. To me, Virginia is going to need at least two more losses to move them off the top line.

Duke has less leeway than Virginia to remain a No.1 seed. Duke could fall off the top line with one loss, depending on who it is against. They could also lose two more games to, say, Virginia and/or another ACC team and stay a No.1 seed it just depends on the loss.

Sorry, Villanova and Arizona, but unless Gonzaga or Wisconsin drop a game down the

So, if you’re keeping track at home, that leaves Gonzaga and Wisconsin (25-2) competing for that last No.1 seed.

Let’s compare some resumes!

Team A: 

RPI: 8

Record vs. Top 25: 1-1

Record vs. 25-50: 3-0

Team B: 

RPI: 6

Record vs. Top 25: 2-1

Record vs. 25-50: 3-0

Pretty similar, right? Other than one win, these teams are virtually identical in RPI.

If you’ve been following college basketball this season, you can figure out Team A is Gonzaga and Team B is Wisconsin.

That’s closer than you thought, is it? Considering Wisconsin plays in the Big Ten, you would assume they’d play a lot stronger competition than Gonzaga, but that’s not really the case.

Because it’s so close, I feel like I have to give the edge to Gonzaga, especially considering Gonzaga is one shot away from being undefeated.

If Gonzaga makes one more shot at any point of the game against Arizona in regulation, Gonzaga wins and probably doesn’t lose again this season.

That’s not to say Wisconsin doesn’t deserve a No.1 seed. Wisconsin has played very well all season, with the exception of one bad half against Duke and one bad game without Frank Kaminsky against Rutgers.

It’s unlucky, but that’s the way it goes in college basketball.

If the season ended today…

If the season ended today, Gonzaga deserves to be on that top line with Kentucky, Duke, and Virginia.

That’s unfortunate for Wisconsin, but like I said, it’s college basketball. There’s still time for Wisconsin to move up.

Right now, the Zags are in as a No.1 seed, but a loss the rest of the way will probably move Gonzaga off the top line and into a No.2 seed.

The system isn’t perfect, but that’s why we love college basketball. The team that is supposed to win always wins the NCAA Tournament, regardless of their seed. That’s the beauty of the system.

Next: College Basketball Rankings: Top 25 Teams In America

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