Two years ago, the Zags rolled through the WCC on the back of Kelly Olynyk en route to the first No. 1 ranking in school history as well as the first top seeding in the NCAA Tournament.
At the time, it might have been the highest point the program has ever known. Every one was ecstatic and it looked like Gonzaga might finally be on its way to making an impact in the NCAA Tournament.
Of course, that isn't how it ended up. Gonzaga would lose to Wichita State as the Shockers made an improbable, but completely justified, run through March and into the state of national awareness.
Flash forward a couple of years later and Gonzaga finds itself right where it was before. Does this little school from Spokane, Washington deserve to be recognized as one of the top teams in the nation when it comes to seeding in the NCAA Tournament?
The short answer: yes.
The long answer: yes, and here is why.
Gonzaga is good. Very good. The only people who don't think Gonzaga isn't good are the people who obviously haven't watched this team play yet.
Saw Bracketology and saw Gonzaga was again listed as a 1 seed. Please tell me this isn't being considered? Talk about overrated— Good Stuff Maynerd (@zeemo1986) January 16, 2015
Just like always, Gonzaga is overrated trash— Jarod Deagan (@JarodDeagan) January 19, 2015
Those are just a couple in a long line of people forming a disorderly queue to expound in 140 characters more or less the same message: Gonzaga is overrated.
Are they right? Possibly. Basketball, especially college basketball, is as much about statistics, logic and expected results as it is about random third string walk on shooting guards dropping 20 points in a game because hey, passion and other intangibles. The unpredictability of college basketball is what makes the NCAA Tournament the best sporting event on the planet. So, you could argue, that Gonzaga is overrated. But not by very much.
Gonzaga is ranked No. 3 by Ken Pomeroy, featuring one of the best offenses in the nation (No. 2 to be exact) slightly hauling along a defense that fluctuates between good and capable (ranked No. 41 to be exact). Don't like the advanced statistical nonsense of guys like Pomeroy because he clearly can't be trusted? Let's move on to the ESPN BPI ranking. Gonzaga is sitting pretty at No. 3 there as well. Against the BPI top 50, Gonzaga is 4-1.
Still not satisfied? Are you one of the old school useless statistical benchmark kind of people? Here is the fire for your flame. In the RPI Gonzaga is merely ranked No. 8.
Other than that, there isn't a whole lot to go on when claiming Gonzaga is overrated. So let's move onto the next quesion: Can Gonzaga secure a No. 1 seed?
For that to happen, a lot needs to work. Essentially, the landscape needs to stay the same as it is, and then Gonzaga has a chance. Kentucky is virtually guaranteed a No. 1 seed. Virginia is really good this year, and a rough stretch at the end of January/beginning of February will determine their fate. If I were to put my money on two No. 1 seeds currently occupied -- those would be it.
After that, it is a free for all, and Gonzaga is in the mix of that carnage. It isn't as simple as saying if Gonzaga wins out they deserve a No. 1 seed. That would be impressive and would cement Gonzaga as one of the better teams in
baseball (edit: basketball). But if Villanova, Wisconsin or Airzona wins out, they are all doing it against much tougher competition. For Gonzaga to get a No. 1 seed, certain things and teams need to fall into place. There is plenty to suggest that it might.
Duke has an iffy-defense and has two games against both Notre Dame and North Carolina (as long as one against Virginia) left on the docket. Prior to last night, Villanova was looking like it had a good chance of running the rest of the Big East slate -- until they soundly lost to Georgetown. Wisconsin has a tough Big Ten billing still left and has that nasty loss to Rutgers to try and hide under the rug. The Arizona Wildcats, in a semi-down Pac 12, could be a dark horse in all of this.
Essentially though, Gonzaga has a legitimate chance at a No. 1 seed this year. Whether or not the Bulldogs can capitalize on it is an entirely different matter.