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Gonzaga's early season wins are looking a bit better now

The non-conference schedule has basically gotten better as the season has progressed.

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs made it through the non-conference schedule with a 11-1 record, the sole loss being in overtime at Arizona in early December.

Amongst those 11 wins were the big teams on the slate like SMU and UCLA. As the season has progressed, however, some of the other wins over teams are starting to look like wins over potential tournament teams.

Specifically, the NIT Tournament, which saw solid wins over Georgia and St. John's, is looking much better with each passing day (although not each passing day for St. John's in conference play). Let's take a look at the teams and see how they are doing now.

SMU Mustangs

KenPom No. 34 before, No. 28 now

The Mustangs were hardly at full strength for their game in Spokane and it showed as Gonzaga ran away with a pretty easy victory. Then, SMU promptly dropped another game against Indiana and then another against Arkansas. Suddenly, instead of a win over a top-25 team, Gonzaga had a win over a 1-4 team. Since losing to Arkansas on Nov. 25, SMU has gone 9-1 with wins over Memphis, Wyoming and Michigan. With the American Athletic Conference not the strongest of challenges, SMU has a pretty solid shot at making the tournament with a good seed.


KenPom No. 61 before, No. 33 now

After Gonzaga beat Georgia, the other Bulldogs promptly went and lost to Minnesota to close out the tournament. Georgia hasn't done too much since then because the rest of its non-conference schedule wasn't full of too many challenges. They did pull off a nice win over Seton Hall at home. The away win over Kansas State doesn't look as good now because Bruce Weber has a full blown dumpster fire happening there. It'll be a rought go for Georgia in the SEC with Florida, Kentucky and Arkansas all sporting solid squads. Georgia lacks anything in the way of signature wins but should be a solid bubble team for the NCAA Tournament.

St. John's

KenPom No. 41 before, No. 34 now

If this post was written before conference play started, St. John's would've been the biggest gainer. After losing to Gonzaga, the Red Storm rattled off seven straight wins, including a big win on the road against Syracuse. Things were looking up for Steve Lavin's crew until Big East play started. The Red Storm have opened with three straight losses in conference play, and only the loss at Butler was close. Then again, losing to Seton Hall and Villanova are hardly bad wins. As long as St. John's can hold its own in conference play, this win will look quite nice for Gonzaga.


KenPom No. 39 before, No. 70 now

Whoops. We really started something bad for UCLA, although it is hard to blame Gonzaga. Realistically, UCLA's hype in the beginning of the season was somewhat justified, but mostly not. The Bruins lost their only challenges in the non-conference schedule and the rest of it was full of cupcake home games against the likes of Montanta State (KenPom No. 323), Nicholls State (No. 339), Cal State Fullerton (No. 229) and UC Riverside (No. 244). Things didn't get any easier for UCLA because after Gonzaga their schedule went like this: neutral against Kentucky, away against Alabama, away against Colorado, away against Utah. They lost all those games. This is the one win that has lost a bit of its luster.

Texas Southern

KenPom No. 276 before, No. 155 now

Nobody will be impressed by Gonzaga beating Texas Southern in December. But let's give credit where credit is due. Mike Davis has some pretty solid wins on the resume now. Texas Southern was 1-9 after losing to Gonzaga. Since then, they pulled off two big road wins against Michigan State and Kansas State. Texas Southern is projected to roll through the Southwestern Athletic Conference, so good for them. They pulled off a few upsets this year and luckily Gonzaga wasn't one of them.