Conference/Record: West Coast (31-2)
Location: Spokane, Washington
Famous Alums/Attendees: Jason Bay learned how to take advantage of baseball economics at Gonzaga, John Stockton of course went there, and his son is on the team now. Bing Crosby crooned to co-eds in Spokane once upon a time.
Random Fun Fact: Gonzaga became the first West Coast Conference team since San Francisco in 1977, with Bill Cartwright at center, to be ranked #1 in the country.
Tournament History/Most Recent: Gonzaga made its first appearance in 1995, and has now made fifteen straight NCAA appearances, going back to the Elite Eight run in 1999. The Zags lost to Ohio State in the “third round” last year, and last appeared in the Sweet Sixteen in 2009 with a loss to Duke as a 4 seed.
Record against Projected At-Larges/Bubble Teams: 7-2
Good Wins/Bad Losses: Gonzaga has only lost twice this year, a last second defeat at Butler in improbable fashion, and at home to Illinois. Gonzaga swept the Big XII (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas State) and beat St. Mary’s three times.
Notable Player(s): Kelly Olynyk is one of the best big men in the country and an All-American candidate. He is very good at running the floor as a seven footer, and his unexpected emergence has been a difference in going from a ranked team to #1 in the country. Elias Harris is the versatile power forward, and Kevin Pangos leads the offense at the point. You will love Mike Hart, a former walk on, who is the defensive specialist/glue guy at starter, and has taken only 33 shots all year. He’s made 20 of them.
All-Important Rankings: RPI (6), Ken Pom (4), SevenOvertimes (5).
Outlook/Seed: Gonzaga should be the #1 seed in the West. The situations that might move them to a #2 would be either Louisville or Georgetown winning the Big East, one of the other top contenders beating Indiana and winning the Big Ten, Kansas winning the Big XII, and Miami winning the ACC tourney. At least two of those things would need to happen to make it a close call.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]
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