Mark Few became head coach of Gonzaga back in 1999, shortly after he helped lead the Bulldogs to a Cinderella run to the Elite Eight as an assistant coach. This program has proceeded to appear in every single NCAA Tournament since that moment, a streak nearly a quarter century long. Is this the year when that long streak draws to a close?
The Bulldogs lost a tough game to Purdue in Maui and then won over Syracuse and UCLA, two teams that aren’t exactly in fine shape this season. Their win against USC two weeks later also isn’t aging well. Then came the trouble, as Gonzaga lost to Washington, Connecticut, and San Diego State (at home) in December, squandering their remaining chances in nonconference play.
As has been the case for that last quarter century, the WCC isn’t exactly full of resume-building opportunities, especially with BYU now in the Big 12. Even worse was the Bulldogs falling at Santa Clara in one of their early contests in league play. They’ve now won four straight and sit 6-1 in the WCC, but the most impressive of the bunch was at home against San Francisco, and they only won by five points.
Gonzaga is 0-4 versus Quad 1 foes and just 3-1 against Quad 2. They simply don’t have the opportunities as other bubble teams in the power conference leagues, and their metrics won’t get any better in the weeks ahead. They desperately need a nice performance against Saint Mary’s this weekend especially after some first half struggles against much weaker teams in recent games. The NET is currently 31; but will it stay that high or even be enough by the end of February?
We’ve considered ten teams but there are certainly more that could easily either make or miss the NCAA Tournament. Who do you think will stand out in the weeks ahead and secure their spot in the Big Dance?