Here is a real interesting and rather horrible piece of information that luckily didn't come to fruition this season: if the Zags missed the NCAA Tournament, they would've been the highest AP preseason top 25 team to do so.
Remember way back when in early November that the Zags were ranked No. 9? I almost don't. That far back was a completely different team that was generating enormous amounts of hype based off of the trio of Kyle Wiltjer, Domantas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski.
There were talks of playing all three at the same time, and it was enough in the national eye to overshadow any and all deficiencies the Zags had. As we all know, Gonzaga had plenty, and needed plenty of time to figure it out in time.
Gonzaga did, just in time, but instead of entering the 2016 NCAA Tournament as a high seed, the Zags are most likely going to enter the tournament as a double digit seed. According to Bracket Matrix, Gonzaga is averaging a No. 11 seed in all of the predictions.
The thing is, Gonzaga isn't a No. 11 seed right now. I'm not saying the Zags are going to be slaughtering their way to an Elite Eight, but Gonzaga might be a team that is primed to make a little bit of noise, because they are quite a bit better than the other No. 11 seeds in the tournament.
Just take a look at the Ken Pomeroy rankings for the other teams hovering around No. 11 seeds.
|San Diego State||185||2||39|
Both Connecticut and San Diego State are their standard, typical defensive powerhouses. But both teams struggle to score points. In fact, once you start to get down to many of the double-digit seeds, defense tends to be the M.O. Often times, however, in the first round, it isn't the defensive powerhouses that are pulling off the upsets. It is the teams that can offensively keep up with their superior opponents and hit the big buckets when they need to. If the Zags land as a No. 11 seed, and face off against a No. 6 seed, well, the Bulldogs will end up as a quite a trendy upset pick.
In fact, if you take a look at the No. 6 seeds, there is a theoretical chance, just going off of metrics alone, that Gonzaga is theoretically the better team for everyone but Iowa.
Add in the fact that there is a slight chance that as the No. 11 seed, the Zags could still end up playing in Spokane. And well, this team might be hell for opponents.
Much of what makes that even worse is that the Zags have been playing with a delightful head of steam as of late. They've rolled with the punches since the loss to Saint Mary's and delivered knockout blows with each opponent that has entered the ring. Following the Saint Mary's loss on Feb. 20, Ken Pomeroy ranked the Zags No. 35. Now, they are ranked No. 26.
As it stands, there is a good chance that the Zags will enter the NCAA Tournament as a team you will constantly see listed as a trendy upset for the first round, and rightfully so. The Zags still boast both Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis, who are still two of the better forwards in the nation. They are ranked No. 16 and No. 17, respectively, by Ken Pomeroy by players who use at least 24% of a team's possessions. The backcourt has steadily improved to the point where they are no longer the bane of our existence.
In the grand scheme of things, the Zags won't be under or overrated at their seeding in the NCAA Tournament. But that is also one of the quirky flaws of the NCAA Tournament seeding. It judges the entire body of work, and that is why Gonzaga will be seeded so low. The Zags deserve it. But the Zags also have been playing up to their potential as of late, and that potential is better than a No. 11 seed. Gonzaga is definitely deserving of whatever seed they receive, but whatever team they draw in the first round won't be happy to play them.