“But Matt, they’re a number one seed.”
Bear with me.
“But Matt, they cruised to the title game.”
Bear with me.
“But Matt, they were number one in the country for a good stretch this year.”
I told you, just bear with me.
When I first started watching the NCAA tournament, Gonzaga was just bursting on the scene, and could legitimately be called a Cinderella story. Their carriage would always turn to a pumpkin within the first two weekends and we would all kind of forget about Gonzaga basketball for a year until Cinderella showed up at the ball again.
This year was no different, really. Sure Gonzaga was a number one seed, and they had spent time as the top team in the country (at least based on the polls) for a time this season as well. But raise your hand if you had Gonzaga even reaching the Final Four, much less the title game.
That’s what I thought. Most people (including both Just Average Sports Guys) had Arizona advancing to the Final Four out of the West region. Only when Xavier spanked Arizona did everyone start to think Gonzaga had a chance. Only when no real top-tier team emerged from the East bracket to meet the Bulldogs in the Final Four did we think Gonzaga would advance. Sure, South Carolina was a nice story, but as Gonzaga showed Saturday evening, they were the better team. Even at this point, who really believes in Gonzaga? Sure, they are only two point dogs to the Tarheels from North Carolina. Is that legit, though? Who thinks Gonzaga has what it takes to win the title (aside from me, since that was my prediction on last Thursday’s “Faces for Radio” https://www.spreaker.com/episode/11520434)?
This has been the narrative all year. “No one believes in the Gonzaga Bulldogs.” And it’s a narrative that Gonzaga and head coach Mark Few have used to a “T” to get to the title game. It’ll take much more than an “us vs. the world” mentality to stop the Tarheels (maybe a rebound or two, jeez Oregon!) and they should be well tested tonight. The fact that Gonzaga has never advanced this far in the tournament, coupled with the fact that they are generally never the prohibitive favorite (unless you’re from the pacific northwest I would assume) shows me that Gonzaga may be one of the most overlooked teams in the country (yes even in a season such as this one).
All this does is fit the narrative that the Gonzaga Bulldogs have their feet firmly planted in a glass slipper. Maybe tonight they’ll finally get their happy ending.