02 March 2013

Should Gonzaga be number 1?

With top ranked Indiana falling once again this week, this time to Minnesota, students at Gonzaga University were understandably ecstatic. Duke falling to Virginia made the excitement even greater. Both games leave the second ranked Bulldogs in prime position to become the number one team in the country come Monday, provided they take care of business at home against an 11-19 Portland club that they beat by 22 earlier this year? But does Gonzaga deserve their first top ranking in school history?

The reasons why the Zags are in the mix to be number one are crystal clear. They are the only team in the country remaining with two losses or fewer and both are "good" losses, against a red-hot Illinois team back in early December and that memorable game at Hinkle where they fell to Butler at the buzzer. They have strong victories over Oklahoma, DavidsonKansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma State in Stillwater and sweeping Saint Mary's.

Speaking of Saint Mary's, many have pointed to the fact that the West Coast Conference is not exactly a great conference, because only great teams can come from powerhouse conferences, apparently. But not only have the Bulldogs taken care of business in the conference, which does feature good clubs in Saint Mary's, Santa Clara and BYU, they are blowing out their conference foes, which good teams should always do to garbage teams.

There is no question that this Gonzaga team, aptly labeled the Foreigners by Grantland's Mark Titus, passes the eye test. Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris are an excellent post duo and this team can light it up from downtown, with Olynyk, Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell, Jr. all showing excellent touch. The only reservation I have with this team is that they are not great defensively, but their offense more than counters that.

So yes, I have no doubt that Gonzaga should be the top ranked team in the country. Plus, they are winning all their games while the other top teams have all dropped games of late. And you know what, give them a number one seed in the tournament, provided they take care of business in the WCC Tournament in Vegas.

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