The Gonzaga Bulldogs have been playing out of their minds for the past month. Or, perhaps the Gonzaga Bulldogs have been playing completely within reasonable expectations, and it just took quite a while for that team to be realized.
Either way, the Bulldogs are one of the more dangerous teams in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulldogs have had two pretty different teams thrown their way so far in the tournament, and they have come away with two resounding victories. Against Seton Hall, Gonzaga was supposed to face a tough defense anchored by one of the better scoring guards in the NCAA Tournament. The Pirates had just got done rolling through the Big East Tournament.
Then they ran into Gonzaga. The Pirates defense did its job. They held Gonzaga to just 42.9 percent from the floor and 35 percent from beyond the arc. Kyle Wiltjer was just 3-of-10 from the floor and Domantas Sabonis had to take 20 shots to reach 21 points.
But on the flipside of things, Gonzaga's defense made it impossible for Seton Hall to win. They held the Pirates to just 32.3 percent shooting. Isaiah Whitehead took 24 shots en-route to a grand total of 10 points. He went 0-for-10 from three-point range. Seton Hall tried to grind out a victory and they ended up just getting ground up by the wheels of the Gonzaga machine.
The game against Utah was almost the exact same story, just with a different opponent. Utah loves to play it slow, and Gonzaga had no issues slowing it down. Utah just had issues slowing Gonzaga down. Wiltjer was back to his efficient self, scoring 17 points and hitting key threes early on to jumpstart the Gonzaga offense. Eric McClellan took the game over and scored 22 points, effortlessly darting into the paint and creating havoc for the Utes.
Jakob Poeltl, a likely first round draft pick, was rendered useless. He finished the game with five points off of just five field-goal attempts. Sabonis had him locked down for every step of the way. Jordan Loveridge, normally a solid three-point threat, put up a goose egg in the game.
In both NCAA Tournament games, every single Gonzaga starter has finished with a defensive rating well under 100. This Gonzaga defense has been unreal in the first two games.
Michigan State's upset in the first-round instantly paved the way for a possible deep run by Gonzaga. Now, the Zags have to make it through the famous Syracuse zone and they will be in the Elite 8 for the second-straight year. Considering how this team is playing at the moment, nothing sounds surprising.