Gonzaga primed to party like it’s 1999
by Scott M Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to the second week of Bracket Briefing, our attempt to ensure that readers won’t have to wait until March to know who C.J. McCollum is.
Team of the Week: No. 16 Gonzaga
Gonzaga coach Mark Few famously hates the term “mid-major,” saying over the years that it’s a media-driven, poor description for a college basketball team. While the term is still the most quintessential way to separate the bigger schools (in major conferences with television exposure) and the smaller schools (say, in an average West Coast Conference with a school enrollment of less than 5,000), Few has a point when it comes to his school, which has broken the fold to become a made-for-TV team in the non-conference season and an NCAA tournament team every postseason.
It all started in 1999 when the Zags reached the Elite Eight. Most small teams fade away after a Cinderella run. Instead Gonzaga has made the NCAA tournament each of the last 14 years and reached the Sweet 16 four times. This year, Few might have his best team since that ’99 squad. Gonzaga returns four starters from last year’s 26-7 team and welcomes highly-touted Polish freshman big man Przemek Karnowski. Although it’s only been three games, the Bulldogs feature six players averaging double-digits while ranking third in the nation in scoring. It’s normally stupid to throw in early-season stats, but that potent barrage of offense could certainly stick.
Where Gonzaga would be seeded in the NCAAs if the season ended today: No. 4.
That’s a tough one because Gonzaga hasn’t gotten into the difficult portion of its non-conference schedule yet to bulk up its RPI (in the high 100s). Still, a No. 4 seed makes a ton of sense based on a few dominating wins (mainly an 84-50 shellacking of West Virginia). But the real question should be how far this team can go in the NCAAs? And the answer to that is undoubtedly very far. The Big Dance is always based on matchups and that’s what makes this team so scary—the Bulldogs can guard most teams and will pose matchup problems with a high-octane … [For more on Bracket Briefing: Gonzaga primed to party like it's 1999, click here.]