23. Gonzaga (18-6)
This has not been a normal season in Gonzaga; or at least normal from their recent standards. Once a mid-major darling, the Bulldogs have spent the last two decades growing into a powerhouse program that has not missed a trip to the Big Dance since the turn of the century. With some tough losses and no impressive wins, could that streak really end for the faithful from Spokane?
Since they’re back in the rankings, the stock is back up for Gonzaga, who delivered in a 96-64 win over Portland back on Wednesday night. It was another fantastic offensive performance from the Bulldogs led by Braden Huff’s 25 points off the bench and Anton Watson’s efficient 20-point effort. Saturday is what got the Bulldogs back on the radar as they went to Lexington and got an 89-85 win at Kentucky. They finally claimed an impressive victory and got 23 points from Graham Ike in a true team win.
There’s still work ahead for these Bulldogs. They cannot avoid further losses in the WCC. They’re still quite a bit better than most of the teams in this league, but don’t lead the conference due to close losses to Santa Clara and Saint Mary’s. No more close losses for a Gonzaga team that would also love to avenge those performances in a few weeks. For now, it’s Loyola Marymount and Pacific and what should be two more victories.