While we are still months away from Selection Sunday, there is no doubt that several programs have begun to pull away from the pack in terms of top seeds come March. Being in a non-power conference, Gonzaga doesn't have that cushy ability to lose a game or two and still belong to that club but, at this point, the Zags find themselves in that conversation. In fact, ESPN's Joe Lunardi has slated the Zags on the top line in his latest bracketology. Here's a look at Joe's latest work:
Obviously don't pay any attention to the teams he lists in the bracket because those are all extremely variable but the Bulldogs spot on the one-line in the West region with first round games in Seattle is about as blissful of a bracket as you can make for Mark Few's club.
Unfortunately, as the Zags work deeper and deeper into the West Coast Conference slate, the battle becomes whether or not they can impress the committee enough and have other top programs continue to fall. If a Duke or Arizona or Kansas win out or continue to throw up impressive wins in their power conference, you can be sure that the Zags will fall off that one line - even if the Bulldogs take care of their business.
Make no mistake, as well, that past faults will play against Gonzaga. Past faults by themselves and by fellow non-power conference one-seeds. Joe Lunardi points this fact out as he explains his latest bracket:
With Gonzaga joining Kentucky, Virginia and Villanova as projected No. 1 seeds in today's bracketology, it may be instructive to examine the legacy of top seeds outside the so-called power conferences. It would seem their performance in the actual tournament is mixed.
Here are the most recent examples (going back 15 years)
- 2014: WICHITA STATE. Lost in round of 32 to Kentucky.
- 2013: GONZAGA. Lost in round of 32 to Wichita State.
- 2008: MEMPHIS. Lost to Kansas in NCAA championship game.
- 2007: MEMPHIS. Lost in Sweet 16 to UCLA.
- 2004: SAINT JOSEPH'S. Lost in Elite Eight to Oklahoma State.
• 2002: CINCINNATI. Lost in round of 32 to UCLA.
As you can see, only Memphis (2008) broke through to the Final Four, giving the teams on this list a paltry batting average -- .167 -- in reaching college basketball's biggest stage. This percentage also compares unfavorably to the overall rate of No. 1 seeds advancing to the Final Four.
Over the same 15-year span, 21 of 60 top seeds made it to the final weekend (.350). This is about double the rate of non-power schools. But is it an argument that the Gonzagas and Wichita States of the world should automatically be excluded from No. 1 seed consideration?