While most conference tournaments are in the midst of the drama for a fight to the Big Dance, Gonzaga has the week off. After falling to St. Mary’s in the WCC Title game Monday night, the Zags are in Spokane to finish up mid-terms and desperately wait for Selection Sunday.
GU’s non-conference schedule, along with their overall season performance doesn’t make them a bubbled team like most non-automatic bid mid-major programs, but where Gonzaga will be shipped off to is a completely different story.
In 2010, GU fell to St. Mary’s in the championship game and was sentenced to play in Buffalo, New York as a No. 9 seed. While the Bulldogs were able to pull the first round win out against a tough eighth seeded Florida State team. That win hardly mattered when GU was forced to play No. 1 Syracuse—in what was practically a home game for the Orange and a monumental loss for the Zags.
If Gonzaga gets stuck in that eight-nine spot, it really would be terrible. While the first game would be more probable as a win, the likelihood of playing a top seed in the second round is not hopeful. As a fan, I would much rather see the Zags as a worse seed, like 11 or 12, than placed higher with the strong chance of playing a No. 1 seed in the second game of the NCAA tournament.
Last year, the Zags were sent to Denver as an 11 seed to face No. 6 St. John’s. That lower spot ended up favoring the Bulldogs very well as they knocked off the Red Storm in the so-called upset. Considering Portland is a regional site for the first two rounds, it would be great if GU could earn a trip to a semi-local location.
For Gonzaga to play in Portland, they would likely have to be a five or 12 seed. Considering they didn’t win the conference championship, or the WCC regular season crown, it is highly unlikely that GU would be seeded at five. While a 12 seed is not proper representation of this years’ Zag team, I think it would be an ideal fit for the Bulldogs.
With the talent and athleticism on this year’s squad, combined with a Northwest fan base filling the Rose Garden, Gonzaga could make a good run to start the tourney. Being misrepresented as a 12 seed would set up the Zags for a good chance at an upset against the five seed, and then an expected matchup with the No. 4 team. While no win is easy or guaranteed in the Big Dance, ideally being placed in the 5/12 bracket in Portland would be the ideal slot for GU.