When Gonzaga heads down to Southern California this week, it will do so as the 7th best team in the country. With a 19-2 record, the thought of a two-seed in the NCAA Tournament has crept into the minds of Gonzaga fans across the country. With a favorable remainder of the schedule, the Zags are in prime position to capture that goal and set themselves up for what could be an incredibly promising March. Let's take a quick look at what lies ahead for Mark Few's club
The high level summary of this schedule is "hmmm, the Zags could probably do this". Overall, the Bulldogs play eight teams with a combined record of 114-98. That is a 54% winning percentage against a largely weak composite nonconference schedule. The Zags play LMU and San Diego twice; neither team has a winning record and LMU is grasping to stay out of the cellar. The average ranking for Gonzaga's remaining opponents is 156 with a range of 33 (Saint Mary's) all the way down to 257 (Portland).
The true remaining tests for the Bulldogs lies when they leave the friendly confines of the McCarthey Athletic Center. Gonzaga's road opponents have a combined recrod of 61-45 (58%) and have an average KenPom ranking of 126. Gonzaga's first two road opponents come in the next few days in Southern California. Neither LMU or USD are expected to pose a major threat but the difficult stretch starts on Valentine's Day when the Zags visit Saint Mary's. Following that game they head to War Memorial Gymnasium where they haven't won in several years and then they take on BYU on February 28th in Provo. Those three road games will absolutely be the defining games of the season and will have a huge bearing on Gonzaga's seeding come March.
At the end of the day, even the greatest pessimist must love where Gonzaga stands at this moment. It is incredible to think that several plays combined stand between this team and a perfect record and the inside track to a one seed. Unfortunately, those several plays happened and the Bulldogs are saddled with two losses but also earned 19 wins. As we have said over the past few weeks, it is important for the Zags to keep the momentum and avoid a letdown. Mark Few's squad has proven to be the clear favorite in the West Coast Conference and there are just ten games and a conference tournament that stand in the way of them and one of their major goals. Should they achieve that goal, we could be looking at a season that goes into the Gonzaga record books. Fun to think about, huh?