The latest points spread pretty much agrees as well, with Oklahoma State coming in as a 3-point favorite. Usually, choosing between the No. 8 and the No. 9 doesn't matter that much because one of the two meets the top seed in the third round. The thing that is fun about the NCAA Tournament is that "usually" is a word that doesn't really hold much meaning.
I picked the Zags to beat Oklahoma State because that is the thing you are supposed to do with your alumni team. I don't really count as one of the experts in the field, however, and those experts aren't too fond of the Gonzaga's chances to make it to the third round. In fact, I had to do some hardcore soul searching to even find one person who was a fan of the Bulldog's chances.
Here is Sports Illustrated's Brian Hamilton making the wise decision. The rest of his colleagues did not. Eleven (11!!!) CBS Sports contributors posted their brackets and all 11 picked Oklahoma State to win. President Barack Obama picked the Cowboys to win.
I quit there, honestly, because I couldn't believe that only one out of 15 people were choosing the Bulldogs. I started to get a little worried, like maybe I was drinking some sort of juice that is only available to us simple folks rooting for the Spokane boys. Maybe Oklahoma State is some national title powerhouse that just got lost in the shuffle on Selection Sunday.
Then I checked Nate Silver's excellent new-ish site fivethirtyeight.com. Silver is a man who crunches numbers upon numbers and has made a career off of being right about his numbers. Now, the NCAA Tournament is wildly unpredictable, so there is that. But the fact of the matter remains, his model placed Gonzaga's chances of winning at 48 percent. Ken Pomeroy has us with a 52 percent chance of success. The guys who use numbers to prove points rather than formulate arguments based off of words are giving us about a 50-50 shot to win.
That is exactly the number I would give us to win. I see plenty of ways for Gonzaga to win this game, and plenty of ways for Oklahoma State to win this game. But to read about everyone who has a soapbox siding with Marcus Smart and company is a bit entertaining, and honestly it can only be for the better.
Saying Gonzaga is a team that plays better with a chip on its shoulder isn't saying much. Pretty much every team operates in that fashion. The beauty of being the underdog is that everyone expects you to lose, and therefore you can reach a level of physical exertion and mental focus that your opponent cannot.
The media is treating this matchup like Muhammad Ali versus Glass Joe. Marcus Smart is good and Oklahoma State is a good team as well. The Bulldogs aren't going to just roll over and die, however, and that is the narrative we have in front of us. The Gonzaga Bulldogs are up against the soon-to-be-NCAA Tournament juggernaut that is Oklahoma State. Let's prove all these detractors wrong.