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Weekly Zag Briefing

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NCAA Basketball: Dixie State at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

We’re one game into the men’s season and there are certainly areas that need improvement, but also things to be excited about. The hope is that they can rack up the wins while continuing to develop, but it certainly won’t be easy with the target of being the nation’s No. 1 team squarely on their backs.

Don’t forget that the women’s team opens their season on Thursday evening against Montana State, with Lisa Fortier facing many of the same challenges as Mark Few in terms of getting a lot of new faces up to speed.

Here’s what we have on tap for this week’s briefing:

  • Friend of the blog Ricky O’Donnell unveils the mothership’s preseason rankings, with help from our own Peter Woodburn on what to expect from the Zags.
  • Don Chareunsy of The Spokesman-Review put together a fun article highlighting a few Zags’ favorite foods. Not totally surprised that Drew Timme is a root beer float guy, and shoutout to Bree Salenbien for sneaking in a funnel cake when she hits the fair. I’m curious to hear what some of our readers’ favorite foods are in the comments section below.
  • The ESPN Crew breaks down their reactions from opening night around the NCAA, and what they’re looking forward to next. The consensus was that Duke, who we’ll see in just over two weeks in Las Vegas, looked the part of a national title contender and I can’t disagree. The Texas-Gonzaga tilt on Saturday has already been identified as an important game for both teams.
  • They also break down their Final Four picks and the contenders for national player of the year, with an analysis of this year’s edition of Gonzaga thrown in for good measure.
  • Gonzaga is the popular pick to be this year’s national champion amongst The Athletic’s staff of college basketball writers, taking home 5 of the 15 votes. No other program had more than 2 votes.
  • Brian Hamilton tabs Chet Holmgren as the most intriguing player in men’s college basketball this season thanks to his unique frame and versatile skill set. Holmgren already flashed all the various ways he can affect a game in his debut on Tuesday night, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone else that approximates his game.
  • It’s never too early for a mock draft, I guess, and Kyle Boone’s season opening mock sees Chet at #2 to Orlando (a reunion with Jalen Suggs would be very fun) right behind Paolo Banchero, who had an impressive debut of his own against Kentucky in the Champions Classic. Those two will be the favorites to be taken in those two spots next summer, and will probably spend the season going back and forth between themselves in every mock draft that you see.
  • If you’re looking for an idea of what the top seeds in a tournament bracket might look like, CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has you covered.