Writers in the Western part of the United States are having a tough time dealing with upsets. First, it was a New Mexico beat writer who quit after the Lobos lost to Harvard. Now, Greg Crawford of Comcast Sportsnet Northwest says that Mark Few’s time in Gonzaga has run its course and he should be fired. The replacement? Why none other than Ben Howland, who might be out at UCLA as rumors swirl.
Crawford calls Gonzaga under Mark Few perhaps “the greatest regular season team in the history of sports”, then a paragraph later, notes that Mark Few’s record against the AP Top 25 in the regular season is 24-44. Hmmm. There is a disconnect here, and I don’t think it’s in Gonzaga.
Just how horrible of a choker has Gonzaga been in the postseason under Mark Few? That mark against the top 25 would be indicative of a team that would tend to be a middling seed, and behold, Gonzaga has averaged a 7 seed before this year with Mark Few. When I actually go through the seeding and results, before this year’s loss to Wichita State, here were the expected results and actual results under Few.
Expected wins in NCAA Tournament based on cumulative seeds: 14.3 wins in 13 appearances.
Actual wins in NCAA Tournament under Mark Few: 14 wins.
Much will be made of them not reaching the Sweet Sixteen the last four years. This year is a grave disappointment (though Crawford needs to chill out), but the previous three seasons, Gonzaga was a 7, 11, and 8 seed. They lost to a 2 seed that reached the Final Four, a 3 seed, and a 1 seed. They actually outperformed what most teams would have done with those seeds, winning a game each year. I’ll have a post coming on underperforming teams over the last four years. Gonzaga doesn’t even show up on the list, but a couple of Big East teams do.
My favorite line of the Crawford article was this one, though.
Ranked number one in the country and with a number one NCAA seed, plus due to some huge upsets a really nice path was cleared for the Bulldogs to advance to Final Four from their region, something I and many others with respected basketball credentials expected.
Don’t question Crawford for trolling, because he has respected basketball credentials and Gonzaga didn’t meet his expectations. Those expectations, by the way, are a direct byproduct of a coach who has taken a program with two total NCAA appearances before he began, and made fourteen straight appearances and reached #1 in the country for the first time ever–you know, earlier this year.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]