The Gonzaga Bulldogs are the new No. 1 team in the nation. With that lofty rank comes a lot of criticism, generally starting and ending with that team is overrated or, quite simply, that team sucks.
When it comes to the Gonzaga Bulldogs, those cries ring louder and louder from a growing contingent of that special breed of ignorant individuals the internet breeds so well. People who live in a constant bubble of Big 12 ideals think every single team outside of their conference is garbage. There is only Big Blue Nation and any other team outside of Big Blue Nation is the worst team in the nation.
Our Zags, being a little school in a city most of the nation haven’t heard of, are primed for this criticism, and this year, more than any other year, that criticism is completely unfounded. So you have someone in your life that insists on living in the dark age? Give them this article, help bring them to the light. But hey, if they don’t want to move — let ‘em stay dumb. You can’t lead the blind.
Ignorant Argument #1: Gonzaga never plays anyone.
This is without a doubt the most baffling phrase you can see pop up on internet comment boards and just in general. If anything, the Zags made themselves a household name by constantly playing people.
Granted, Gonzaga plays in the WCC, and we will get to that later. But here is a list of team the Zags have played in the past few years: Florida, Iowa State, Arizona, Texas A&M, Connecticut, UCLA, Arizona again, SMU, St. John’s, Arizona again, UCLA again, New Mexico State, Kansas State, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas State again, Illinois, Michigan State, Illinois again, Arizona again, Butler, Xavier, and this isn’t even mentioning all of the teams they have faced in the NCAA Tournament.
The fact of the matter is the “Gonzaga has never played anyone” is your first indicator that you are dealing with someone whose life goals is to demonstrate they have the lowest possible capacity for articulate arguments and intelligent thought processes.
Gonzaga has played people. That is why the Zags end up getting the high seeds and end up getting the high rankings. The AP and coaches aren’t just voting the Zags to the top for shits and giggles. The NCAA selection committee isn’t putting the Zags up there just because they think it’ll be a good draw.
Here is your ultimate retort when dealing with these sorts of special fools, because someone that falls on such a simple argument probably thinks that the RPI is a good metric for measuring anything in life. The Zags are 3-0 against the RPI top 25. Kansas is 2-0. Baylor is 3-0. Villanova is 3-1. North Carolina is 2-1. Florida is 0-4. Next argument please.
Ignorant Argument #2: Gonzaga sucks because they play in the WCC.
Gonzaga is overrated every year. Their conference sucks— Nick Stanek (@Stan_Nick) March 29, 2015
That is something we can’t escape from, the West Coast Conference isn’t very good, and Gonzaga tends to completely roll over the competition. It is true, if the Zags played in one of the big monster conferences they probably wouldn’t be undefeated. Welcome to the apples and oranges argument you have created however, because if Gonzaga was in the Pac 12 they wouldn’t be a tiny little school in Spokane with an enrollment that is less than half of every other school in the conference.
This is where east coast bias reveals its ugly head. It is true, a lot of Gonzaga’s conference games start much later than mommy or daddy allows you to stay up, and as such, without actually watching the Zags completely roll over the competition, you just fall on the tired “they suck” rationale.
The Zags aren’t just winning in the WCC, they are steamrolling the competition. Gonzaga has won its conference games by an average of 27.7 points. For reference points, the Kentucky Wildcats beat Stephen F. Austin, Duquenseque, Cleveland State, Tennessee Martin and Hofstra (all teams around on part with your average WCC team) by an average of 27.2 points—and all of those but Hofstra were at home. Kansas beat Siena, Long Beach State, UKMC and UNLV by an average of 25.5 points.
The fact of the matter is this year, the Zags are absolutely demolishing their weaker competition, like the best teams in the nation do. And then, when the Zags have faced better competition, guess what they have done? Won every game. Next argument.
Ignorant Argument #3: Gonzaga always chokes in the NCAA Tournament.
This is my favorite argument of all time, because apparently the past transgressions of a school mean that the current school also cannot be good. Because yeah, logic works like that or something.
It is true, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are the Atlanta Braves of college basketball, a whole lot of NCAA Tournament appearances and not a lot of ultimate success. It is fair to acknowledge the elephant in the room: the Gonzaga Bulldogs have never made a Final Four. In no way does that mean this team doesn’t have the potential to make the Final Four.
We’ve talked about this ad-nausuem on the blog, in the comments section, and everywhere in life. This is a criticism the Zags will have to deal with, but it is also the most tired and pointless excuse in the planet.
Here are a list of pretty good schools that have also never made a Final Four: BYU, Xavier, Missouri, Tennessee, St. Joseph’s, Creighton, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, San Diego State, and plenty of others. In fact, in this long list of embarrassing company, the Zags are tied with Creighton for 19 NCAA Tournament appearances without a Final Four showing, well below BYU’s 29 appearances without a showing.
The fact of the matter is that everyone has been burned by pegging Gonzaga for the upset on their brackets. It happens. But if you want to talk about teams playing like absolute garbage in March and sending your bracket to an early grave, here are the No. 2 seeds that have lost in the first round in recent history: Michigan State, Georgetown, Duke and Missouri. Here are the No. 3 seeds: West Virginia, Baylor, Iowa State, Duke, New Mexico and Georgetown. Here are the No. 4 seeds: Cal, Kansas State and Michigan. See the one consistent thing in there? No Gonzaga.
All of this just goes to show that the NCAA Tournament is called March Madness for a reason, and the Zags have definitely been on the wrong side of it. Until the Zags shake this shadow, this is the semi-sort-of-but-not-really-whatsoever legitimate argument against the Zags.
Ignorant Argument #4: Gonzaga sucks and I can’t use my words to explain why.
Well let me help you turn the narrative around in your pea-brained mind for a few minutes. Here is a list of teams rated in the Ken Pomeroy top 10 that have both top 10 offenses and defenses in the nation:
Sure, some teams are right on the fringe (hello West Virginia), but Pomeroy also incorporates blowouts into his ratings (sorry WCC haters). In other words, Gonzaga is a really good team.
Is Gonzaga the best team in the nation? Probably not. Is Villanova the best team in the nation? Probably not. We can say that same couple of sentences for a ton of teams in college basketball this year—that is how wild the season has been. At the end of the day, there is a good chance six or seven teams will have legitimate cases for a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday. That is how much churn has been at the top of college basketball this season.
The question needs to be: is Gonzaga one of the best teams in the nation? That answer is unequivocally yes. And if you are somehow still arguing against that point, than I wish you a good life living in that cave for the rest of the college basketball season, and a future apology for your surprise when your team loses to Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament.