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Can Gonzaga Win the National Championship?

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With just two regular season games left, the 28-0 Gonzaga Bulldogs are just 5 wins away from securing a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs have swept through the WCC including two easy wins over the other NCAA Tournament bound team, Saint Mary’s, which they won by a combined 33 points.

Before conference play, they had big wins over Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, and Iowa State, four teams currently in Jamal Murphy’s most recent bracketology, giving them six wins over teams in the field.

They currently have an BPI of 3 and an RPI of 8. But their strength of schedule, through no fault of their own, sits all the way down at 98.

The Zags have still done their part through the WCC season, blowing out every team by an average of 26.4 points per night, with only two games with a margin of 10.

They have an extremely talented starting five led by sure-to-be Wooden Award finalist Nigel Williams-Goss who leads the team in scoring as well as assists with 16.9 and 4.8 and also shoots 51.5 from the floor. They also have two dominant and completely different bigs in Przemek Karnowski and freshman Zach Collins that cause matchup nightmares for every opponent.

So this brings us back to the age-old question, can Mark Few’s team not only make their first Final Four, but win the whole damn thing?

The answer is an easy no.

Gonzaga has the unfair distinction¬†of playing in the West Coast Conference, which plain and simple does not present enough challenges for the Zags to battle in late-game situations, something that helps you prepare for the NCAA Tournament and something the Bulldogs haven’t done since the Arizona win on December 3. That means when the NCAA Tournament starts for Gonzaga on either March 16 or 17, they won’t have had a close game in 103 or 104 days.

Gonzaga is looking like they will cruise to that number 1 seed unless Saint Mary’s somehow upsets them in the WCC Tournament, and yes that would be a monstrous upset at this point. But do they really even deserve that?

Of the top 16 teams that the selection committee released a few weeks ago, 15 of them had a Strength of Schedule in the top 75. And as you already know, Gonzaga was 98.

When the committee had Gonzaga as their fourth overall number one seed, many were outraged. But when it comes down to it, they have no choice but to put them there. While the five ACC teams (North Carolina, Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Virginia), three Pac-12 teams (Arizona, UCLA, Oregon), three Big 12 teams (Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia) and the rest of the 15 teams are all fighting against each other and other teams of quality on a nightly basis, Gonzaga is playing San Francisco and Pepperdine.

Gonzaga really needs to try whatever it takes to find themselves in the Pac-12 and until they do that, they won’t have the experience necessary to win the National Championship.

It is unfortunate that a team that is this talented can not make the Final Four, but my guess is they get knocked out in the Elite Eight or Sweet Sixteen.

Scott Zolotorow