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Number one Gonzaga in a position they haven’t earned

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Gonzaga ran away with the WCC this season, with St. Mary’s providing its only conference competition. Photo courtesy of MCT

 

In perhaps one of the craziest college basketball seasons at the top of the standings, a new number one was crowned this week, the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Honestly, the Bulldogs are a team that constantly is among the best in the country, but to consider them the best team is just ludicrous.

As is proven time and time again in the BCS polls for college football, having the best record does not always mean that you are the best team. Playing in perhaps one of the weakest divisions in the country, the 29-2 Bulldogs earned 16 of their wins in the West Coast Conference.

Their only stiff competition in the conference is that of Saint Mary’s, who just dropped out of the AP top-25, with a 26-5 record. The national powerhouses of Loyola Marymount, Portland, Pepperdine and University of San Diego are not much of a conference schedule for a team that is among the best.

Granted, Gonzaga did have some impressive wins over ranked teams this year. Ninth-ranked Kansas State and thirteenth-ranked Oklahoma State were their two standout wins this season, barely escaping the Cowboys with a one point victory.

No top-10 teams besides Kansas State, and only two teams in the top-25 make this schedule that leaves something to be desired.

They may be one of the best teams in offensive efficiency and field goal percentage, but that doesn’t mean they are an equal match going up against the likes of Duke, Miami (Fl.) or Michigan.

So who should have the top spot? Indiana is a clear cut favorite, even with a loss against Minnesota last week.

Playing in the ever challenging Big Ten Conference, who have four teams in the top-25, Indiana has gritted its way to a 25-4 overall record and 13-3 record in conference play.

Obviously Indiana has suffered some losses this week, as the top spot throughout the season seemed to be plagued by them. The strength of their competition and tight losses should overshadow the fact that they have suffered them at all though.

The Hoosiers rank higher than Gonzaga in both the Rating Percentage Index and Basketball Power Index, which ranks teams on strength of schedule and how they perform.

Maybe the voters wanted to see some new blood at the top of the rankings, the fifth different team to hold the spot. To supplant Indiana at the top with a team that has no big time wins, makes you wonder what voters are looking at when they make the rankings.

Yes, its an amazing accomplishment that has been more than a decade in the making for the Bulldogs. With their rise to the number one ranking, Gonzaga becomes only the third non-Big Six conference school to attain that ranking. It is one that should have never happened, Gonzaga is not a number one school, plays in a weak conference and is just a great storyline for sportswriters.

Whether this accomplishment actually pans out for them in the NCAA Tournament is to be seen, but as we have seen over the years, a number one ranking doesn’t guarantee a long postseason run.

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7 Comments

  1. hstejskal Mar 6, 2013

    I can’t wait to see you proven wrong about the Zags, Casey.  Bring it.  See you at the Dance.

  2. erik Mar 6, 2013

    Big 10 ha, when’s the last time they won it all?

    1. wrnrock Mar 12, 2013

      That was in 2000. Michigan st won.  Big10 had 10 titles.  West Coast had 2. 1955 and 1956. Who beat Gonzaga this season? Illinois, who is 8-10 in the Bigten.
      Big10 was in Ap top 25 101 time this season. West only 19. 

  3. Go Zags!….they are playing the best and most consistent ball….

  4. Joseph Mar 6, 2013

    Oh, here we go with the BIG10 again. The most overrated conference in history.  Does having the biggest enrollment and the most active/fanatical alumni guaranteed over-inflated rankings for schools from this conference?  OBVIOUSLY!

  5. Joseph Mar 6, 2013

    Oh, here we go with the BIG10 again. The most overrated conference in history.  Does having the biggest enrollment and the most active/fanatical alumni guaranteed over-inflated rankings for schools from this conference?  OBVIOUSLY!

  6. Ooh_the_claw Mar 6, 2013

    Pretty clear from your article that YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE ZAGS PLAY this year.  Indiana lost at home tonight by 9 against a team it’s supposed to beat.  The Zags have taken care of business and have no bad losses.  They scheduled the toughest out of conference schedule they could (notable since most teams from top conferences refuse to play them — is that their fault?), while the big conference teams were inflating their records against cupcakes.  The Zags went 5-0 against the Big 12, including all the top teams in the conference except Kansas (oh yea, we tried to schedule them too, but they refused to play us).

    The WCC is not one of the “weakest divisions in the country”, in fact they are the 9th best conference out of THIRTY in Division I basketball, one that has 4 – 20+ win teams.

    Of the Zags’ only two losses, one (Butler) was on a fluke buzzer beater on the road against a two-time National Champion runner up team.  In the other (Illinois), the Zags led by 11 at the half, and it was a 3-point game with a couple of minutes left.  Brandon Paul played a career game, scoring 38, and inexplicably the Zags had double the number of fouls in the second half.  Win those two and that’s a perfect season.

    Joe Lunardi just projected the Zags as the top overall #1 seed tonight in his ESPN Bracketology.  

    “Hoosier Daddy now?”

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