On Monday, the AP and USA Today Coaches Poll both ranked Gonzaga number 1 overall in NCAA Men’s Basketball for the first time in school history. The Zags are 29-2 on the season and are primed for a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament barring an upset in the West Coast Conference tourney. The only problem is there are at least 10 teams better than the Zags, and I’ll tell you who they are and why.
10. Ohio State
The Buckeyes are 22-7 and every single loss has been at the hands of a ranked opponent. They play in the best conference in college basketball and are coming off huge wins vs Michigan State and @ Indiana. The Zags would get their shit pushed in by either team, while Mark Titus (@clubtrillion) would probably get minutes for this Zags team.
Starting with a gimmie vs Air Force on December 29, the Gators went on a 10 game tirade where they curb stomped every team they played until falling to Arkansas on February 5th. At times they’ve looked like the best team in the country, and are the best defensive team in the nation. The Gonzaga Bulldogs would be Gator bait if they ran into Florida in the Sweet 16.
The Wolverines played a Gonzaga-like schedule over the first half of the season and steamrolled over everyone in their path. Big 10 Conference play is a bitch, though, and they’ve had their share of stumbles (Penn State loss was rough). Trey Burke would take Kevin Pangos’ lunch money, & that’s the difference here.
7. Michigan State
Sparty does not have a bad loss on their record, and although they have 5 more losses than the Zags, they have 4 statement wins to Gonzaga’s 0. MSU is tougher than the Zags and is more battle tested. I’ll take the team that defecated on Michigan by 23 points over the team that got tuned up by the Illini any day.
I’ve been high on the Hoyas since they were the first team to test Indiana back on November 20th. With 11 straight Big East wins, the Hoyas are rolling. The Bulldogs would have at least 6 losses if they played GTown’s schedule (probably more, I’m being generous here). Otto Porter Jr > any Zag.
The U is big. They’re fast. And they’re mean. Kenny Kadji stretches defenses better than anyone in the country, and I’m pretty sure Reggie Johnson (6’10 298lbs) would give Kelly Olynyk (7ft 238lbs) a wedgie on the post. Larkin is another guard that would give Pangos nightmares.
The Hoosiers and the Zags have something in common: they both lost to Butler. They both have big centers and good guard play. What they don’t have in common is quality wins. IU: 7, Zags: 0. If these teams met in the tourney, I’d expect the Hoosiers to win by about 8 points.
The Cardinals were my pre-season pick to win it all, and I’m sticking with ‘em. A Gonzaga/L’Ville game wouldn’t even be close. They were one win away from taking the title last year, and I expect them to get there again while I have the Zags falling by the Sweet 16. Their experience is the key.
I dislike the Jayhawks with a passion. Their fans are obnoxious and games at Allen Fieldhouse come off as some sort of cult meeting. I doubted KU pre-season because I didn’t think Ben McLemore would play the way he has after being declared ineligible last season. There isn’t a player on the Gonzaga roster that even comes close to him. McLemore makes KU > Zags.
I told you KU fans were weird
Duke with Ryan Kelly is the best team in NCAA basketball, period. After sitting out for 7 weeks, Kellycame back vs Miami and dropped 36 points to lead them to victory in a much-needed win. They’re undefeated with him. Duke’s (Ryan) Kelly is more important than Gonzaga’s Kelly (Olynyk). It’s just too bad for Dukies that R. Kelly’s foot is made out of paper mache.
If Gonzaga gets a 1 seed as projected, they could very well be the first in the history of the tournament to fall in the round of 64 if they draw a team like Long Beach State, Norfolk State, or even Robert Morris. They just haven’t been tested well enough this season, and have lost to the only quality competition they’ve faced. If they happen to draw a team like NC State in the 2nd round, you better believe my bracket will have them out by then. I see the Sweet 16 as the ceiling for this year’s Gonzaga team, and I’ll be shocked if they make it any further.