This in itself is not shocking. UCLA leapfrogged the Zags thanks to winning in Tuscon, that much is fair. Villanova lost at home to Butler, but everyone knows Villanova is good. Them standing pat is fair. Kansas moving up? So be it.
What isn’t fair is the insane microscope the Gonzaga Bulldogs live under, and how that microscope flips from positive to negative in the blink of an eye. For as many wins as the Zags can muster, going undefeated, being rated the best team by Ken Pomeroy by a large margin, and yet, when the NCAA Selection Show rolled around, the Zags were the fourth No. 1 seed.
Not the third. Not the second. The fourth. The first one to get bounced.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs, who have an AdjEM 3.28 higher than the second place team in Pomeroy’s rankings. The gap from second to third—a mere 0.87. Our beloved Bulldogs, who are the only team in Pomeroy’s top 10 to have both a top 10 rated offense and defense, continually getting disrespected.
This week’s polls proved exactly that, and then some. Following the loss, the Gonzaga Bulldogs were sure to drop, but exactly how far they dropped in some of the voters’ minds is downright boggling.
According to CollegePollTracker.com, the Zags received two seventh-place votes and three eighth-place votes—after losing one game at home to a pretty good BYU squad. This is the same Gonzaga Bulldogs team that one week ago had all but five of the first-place votes.
Two of the voters who voted the Zags in first place last week dropped Gonzaga down to No. 8 in their ballots. The third voted the Zags second last week. One loss and you absolutely plummet in the polls.
The AP poll doesn’t actually MEAN anything, true, but it is a good barometer on the feeling on a team across the nation. And clearly, the Zags are on the short end of the stick. This team, which just got done winning 29 games and was aiming for 30, is suddenly the eighth-best team in the nation because of one loss? This same team, which is still ranked in the top of every single metric you can think up of? This same team, which has more RPI top 25 wins than UCLA, Arizona and Oregon?
After all of these years in the national limelight, the Zags get zero respect from the national media. That is perfectly fine. This team needed something to fight for, and they got it. The Zags went from being a title contender to the most obscure outside bet in a 24 hour time period.
Writers had the audacity to use the following hyperbolic: Can Gonzaga win a title? Is this a team you can trust in March? Do the Zags deserve a No. 1 seed? Are they nothing but a bunch of frauds?
Last I checked, no one said that about Villanova after losing at Marquette. Not a peep after North Carolina lost to Georgia Tech. Similar silence after Kansas lost to Indiana and UCLA lost to USC.
Yet, here are the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who have defeated every team in their path up until Saturday night, and suddenly they are barely a top 10 team? Seriously?
Some old fart coach out there probably said in the basketball world respect isn’t given, it is earned. And true, the Gonzaga Bulldogs haven’t won a Final Four or a national championship yet, so maybe we haven’t “earned” that respect quite yet.
But if that is the case? Who cares. We don’t need it. If the rest of the country wants to think we are the worst team out there, let ‘em. They’ll be the ones staring down the bottom of the bottle come April.