You’ve probably seen someone somewhere on the web discredit the Gonzaga Bulldogs for playing in the WCC. I’m here to tell you why this argument doesn’t make sense anymore.
This Gonzaga team has had plenty of success under Mark Few recently. They advance in the tournament every season. The Zags have been a part of the last five Sweet 16s, and three of the last five Elite 8s, including a run to the championship game in 2017. Gonzaga knows how to play in the tournament and has proven this. They show that they deserve the high seeds they earn year in and year out.
Gonzaga has brought in two top 20 recruiting classes in the last four years; 2016 and 2019. They are bringing the top players to Spokane and pushing this team to higher points.
Zach Collins was a key piece of the 2017 Final Four run as a a part of the 2016 class, and Rui Hachimura and Zach Norvell contributed to last years Elite Eight run. The Zags have the top players, and are consistently winning 30+ games, but people still find a way to hate.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs play in a small conference, the West Coast Conference (WCC). The conference consists of other mid major schools, but two rivals, St Mary’s and BYU, have both made the tournament multiple times this decade (5 and 3 respectively). This season the West Coast has a decent chance at sending three teams and a dark horse in Santa Clara has a possibility to surprise in the conference tournament.
This season alone, Gonzaga has went out and played three top Pac 12 programs, all away from home, and came away with three wins. Wins over then ranked #22 Washington 83-76, and over then ranked #15 Arizona 84-80 both on the road. Gonzaga also went to compete in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, and won an overtime thriller against Pac 12 favorite Oregon in the semifinals. These wins combined with their other two wins over power five teams, @ Texas A&M, and home to UNC, will boost their resume come March.
Four tournament caliber teams remain on their schedule, BYU twice and Saint Mary’s twice. The Cougars have wins over Utah State, Virginia Tech, and Houston coming into conference play, and none of those wins were at home. The Gaels are 13-2 entering conference play with wins over Utah State, Arizona State, and Wisconsin. The West Coast Conference also boasts Santa Clara, who has wins over two Pac 12 schools, Cal and Washington State, as well. This conference should not be slept on anymore with the quality teams they are producing.
Gonzaga isn’t in a power conference, but they are proving that they would clearly be able to compete if a move is ever made, and they should be considered as one of the nation’s powerhouse programs – if not the No. 1 team in the country.
(P/C: 710 AM ESPN Radio Seattle – https://sports.mynorthwest.com/733761/no-9-gonzaga-beats-no-22-uw-huskies-83-76/?)