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Trying to guess Gonzaga’s record

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Until the season starts, all we can do is guess, guess, and guess more.

Xavier v Gonzaga
Are we going to see some more of this?
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

We are under a week away from the unofficial start of the Gonzaga Bulldog’s 2018-19 season, and a shade over a week from the official start. Until this start happens, all we can do is write about what we think is going to happen, because everything out there right now is just pure conjecture.

So if we are going to dive down this rabbit hole, let’s do it with one of the key aspects of what will or will not make a successful season—the final record. Here is a few of our predictions, as well as the game we are most excited for. I left off predicting the NCAA Tournament run, because, well, if there is anything less worthwhile than guessing the regular season, it is trying to predict March Madness, just as Virginia.

Arden Cravalho:

Record Prediction: 28-3

As you can see, I have high expectations for the Gonzaga team this year. I believe the zags start off the season on a 9-game winning streak while beating a talented but extremely young and inexperienced Duke team in the Maui Invitational Championship that isn’t used to the back-to-back-to-back Thanksgiving tournament match-ups. The first losses I see are back-to-back road games against two of the top three teams in the preseason schedule for the zags. The first being a neutral-site game against Tennessee in Phoenix and the second against North Carolina in the always tough environment of Chapel Hill. I would love to be wrong about that though. The next loss I see doesn’t come until January 31st, at Provo, against BYU. Even the best team in Gonzaga history (2016-2017) couldn’t go undefeated in WCC play while losing on senior night against BYU. Mark Few hasn’t gone undefeated in conference action since the 2012-2013 season (16-0) and I don’t see that changing this year.

Game Most Excited About: Gonzaga at North Carolina

No question. Our up-and-coming nationally recognized Gonzaga program traveling from little ol’ Spokane to one of the most historic college basketball programs found in Chapel Hill, North Carolina? What’s more to love than that match-up? Gonzaga hasn’t traveled on the road to an ACC team’s home court in the pre-season since the 2010-2011 season when the Zags beat Wake Forest, 73-63.

North Carolina Tar Heels Championship Welcome Rally Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

Steven Karr

Record Prediction: 31-3 (including WCC Tournament)

I’ll go with 31-3 heading into the NCAA Tourney and grabbing a number one seed. Because of what they return, I think Gonzaga might be the best team in the country on November 6. But the Big Dance isn’t until March so that doesn’t mean much. But, it should help them with their non-conference schedule, especially if they play a Duke team with a bunch of freshmen still trying to mesh. Three losses sounds about right. If you had a gun to my head, I say they lose back-to-back close games to Tennessee and UNC and everyone will say the sky is falling. The game in Provo is their fourth road game in five games. Even if they aren’t facing great teams in those prior road games, that’s still difficult. Combine that with a very improved BYU team and I think Gonzaga could slip up.

Game Most Excited About: Gonzaga vs. Tennessee (in Phoenix)

As soon as the Tennessee game got announced, I was all in on that one. I love Tennessee this season. I don’t know how much you guys pay attention to SEC basketball, but it’s going to be the second best conference in the nation this season. Kyle Alexander, Grant Williams (SEC POY), and Admiral Schofield will match up with Killian Tillie, Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura. The three of them may not have the NBA future that the Gonzaga boys have, but they are three extremely talented and extremely experienced college players. Plus Tennessee was in the top 10 in defensive efficiency last season. I think this is going to be an incredibly physical, grind it out kind of game and I can’t wait.

Wright State v Tennessee Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Peter Woodburn

Record Prediction: 28-3

Throw me in the exact same boat as everyone else so far. The Zags non-conference slate is an absolute bruiser, and I think it will take its toll—but I am going to go with a surprise loss. I think the Zags make it through the Maui Invitational unscathed. I think don’t even think they beat the Duke Blue Devils, I think they will defeat a veteran Auburn team in the final. The first loss of the season is going to come Dec. 1, at Creighton. Last year’s final score wasn’t necessarily deceiving, because the Zags absolutely dominated in the second half. The Bluejays more than hung around in the first half. With their home court crowd, they’ll pull off the upset. The same goes for at the Tar Heels and at BYU. The Cougars and the Zags trade losses with the best of ‘em, and the home crowd at UNC will make it the hardest environment possible to win.

Game Most Excited About: Gonzaga vs. Washington

I’m a sap, what can I say. You can count me as one of the many people who was upset this rivalry game was happening less often than more often for the past decade. I attended the game in Seattle last season, and it was an absolute blast, specifically because the Zags won before the game even began, but also because of the in-state rivalry. Mike Hopkins has turned it around quicker than most expected, and although he has a Washington playing a brand of basketball that few enjoy to watch, nothing sounds better than hearing Seattle Sports Talk Radio forced to talk about the Bulldogs for a few days.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Keith Ybanez

Record Prediction: 29-2

Gonzaga enters the season with its highest ever preseason ranking in the AP polls, and with good reason. The versatility, experience, and balance of this team will lead to a lot of wins and simply overwhelm WCC competition. Saint Mary’s and BYU still have dangerous players (see Jordan Ford and Yoeli Childs), but there is a bigger gap than usual between them and Gonzaga this season, and I don’t foresee either team being able to knock off the Zags which means a perfect conference record this year if everyone stays healthy. Winning three straight games in Maui will be a taller order, and sadly I don’t think the Zags will pull it off. The Illini don’t keep me up at night, and either one of Arizona and Iowa State will be a tough out, but the Zags should still get by them. Duke will hand Gonzaga its first loss of the year in an epic championship game thanks in large part to a deal that Coach K made with the devil many applications of hair dye ago. Sometimes you just can’t overcome the supernatural. The Zags can’t lose to both Tobacco Road teams, however, so I’m chalking them up for a big win in Chapel Hill thanks, in large part, to its very vocal traveling support. That road victory will ease the sting from a loss against Tennessee six days prior in Phoenix.

Game Most Excited About: Gonzaga at North Carolina

This one is pretty easy for me, I’ll be in attendance so it would be simply mad if I picked any other game on the schedule. I’ve always wanted to catch a game in the Dean Dome, and having the opportunity to see the Zags play with Michael Jordan’s college banner hanging above them is a bucket list item for this sports fan. Oh, the game will be pretty good too.

NCAA Basketball: Miami at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports