The Gonzaga Bulldogs have made every NCAA tournament field since 1999. That’s tied for the sixth-longest streak, only behind legacy programs with shoo-in Hall of Fame coaches. But their appearances have been wrought with disappointment. Gonzaga hasn’t gotten past the Elite Eight, and it’s only even gotten that far twice.
Two Elite Eights and 19 tournament appearances in 19 years is a remarkable achievement for any program. For most teams from mid-major conferences, it’s incomprehensible. The Zags should be rooted on as the ultimate Cinderella. But because they’ve been so reliably good for so long, they don’t get that label. They get the label of the Team That Hasn’t Won The Big One.
I’m picking the Bulldogs to shed that label this spring. It took me a while to get there, for reasons having nothing to do with the team’s tournament past.
This is Mark Few’s best team yet — better than those Adam Morrison-led squads that lost in second rounds and Sweet Sixteens from 2004 to 2006, and better than any of the last few years. Yet the Bulldogs should be viewed skeptically, because their path to 32-1 was miles easier than their path to Phoenix will be.
Their league, the WCC, is only decent. They played three games against tournament teams in conference, and all three were wins against a Saint Mary’s team that Gonzaga clearly matches up excellently against. They played three more out of conference: wins against Florida, Iowa State, and Arizona, all by seven points or fewer.
Read the complete predictions here.