Busting Brackets

Gonzaga Basketball: 3 keys against McNeese Cowboys in 1st round of NCAA Tournament

Gonzaga found their way into the tournament and was rewarded with a tough matchup against a 30 win mid major from the Southland.

March 12, 2024; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Anton Watson (22) shoots basketball
March 12, 2024; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Anton Watson (22) shoots basketball / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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There was never any doubt that Gonzaga was going to make the NCAA tournament, right? The Bulldogs didn’t take their typical dominant route to their NCAA tournament at large berth this year. They still played their normal allotment of top teams but this year they didn’t beat them and instead lost to Purdue, Washington, UConn, San Diego State, and Saint Mary’s twice. The Bulldogs also got beat by Santa Clara in the WCC. It was a strange season and one that looked like Gonzaga was not going to have the wins necessary to make the NCAA tournament.

Then there was the game at Rupp Arena against Kentucky. It was a game that Gonzaga desperately had to win for their first quad 1 win of the season. Gonzaga did that win that game and that sparked a big run that saw them acquire two more quad 1 wins along the way. Those were at San Francisco and at Saint Mary’s. That was enough to get Gonzaga into the field as an at-large and comfortably with a 5 seed. Gonzaga deserves to be in with their resume and zero bad losses. The Santa Clara loss was not as bad as it initially seemed. This marks 25 straight seasons that the Bulldogs have been in the NCAA tournament, the 7th straight year they have received a single-digit seed, and it could be the 9th straight year they reach the second weekend of the tournament.

All of those are great accomplishments but the committee did the Bulldogs zero favors this year and gave them a very difficult first round matchup in the McNeese State Cowboys out of the Southland Conference. McNeese is coached by Will Wade and is going to present a unique set of challenges for Gonzaga. The Cowboys are very good at taking away things that Gonzaga is good at but coach Few is going to have his team ready to play and Gonzaga should still win the game even though McNeese is going to be a popular pick to pull off the upset. The Cowboys are more than capable and if Gonzaga does not play well it may get dicey for the Bulldogs.