The Zags did just about everything in their power to convince the Selection Committee that they deserve a No. 1 seed when the bracket are announced five days from now.
They steam-rolled their conference. They won their conference tournament in impressive fashion, making a statement in last night’s win over St. Mary’s. They beat good teams — Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Baylor — in non-conference play. They didn’t suffer a single bad loss, and their only loss since early December came as the result of a botched out-of-bounds play that may or may not have involved a push-off and that may or may not have ended on a shot that wasn’t released in time.
Outside of figuring out a way to slow down Brandon Paul less than a month into the season, there literally is nothing else that Gonzaga could have done to better their current spot. It’s not their fault that St. Mary’s picked the wrong season to schedule poorly and suffer a couple bad losses. It’s not Gonzaga’s fault that BYU had a down season.
But will their profile be enough to get them into that top line?
Well, it all depends on what happens around the country over the course of Championship Week. Because like it or not, Gonzaga’s potential to be a No. 1 seed is not in their control.
Indiana and Duke are probably the two teams sitting in the best position right now. Indiana won the outright Big Ten title, an accomplishment that simply cannot be overlooked this season. Duke hasn’t lost a game with Ryan Kelly in the lineup, beating the likes of Louisville, Ohio State, Miami, VCU, Minnesota, Davidson and North Carolina. Those two teams are locks to be No. 1 seeds if they win their conference tournaments; they may be even if they lose in the first round.
Then you have to look at teams like Louisville and Georgetown in the Big East and Kansas in the Big 12. All three own a share of their league’s regular season title, and a run to the conference tournament title — especially if it includes wins over a couple of top seeds — may be enough to get any of the three into a No. 1 seed. And what about Michigan or Michigan State in the Big Ten? And Florida in the SEC? Even New Mexico, if they win the Mountain West tournament, will have an argument for being a No. 1 seed.
The point I’m trying to make is that this is completely out of Gonzaga’s hands right now.
But here’s the bigger question: does it even matter? Is whether Gonzaga’s a No. 1 or a No. 2 seed all that big of a deal?
What truly matters is that they end up in a Salt Lake pod in the West Region, where the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 will be played in LA. If the WCC tournament in Vegas has taught us anything, it’s that the good folks of Spokane are willing to travel, and getting to Utah and Southern California is a lot easier than having to make it all the way across the country.
Anyone that watches Gonzaga play knows they are a national title contender whether their run starts from a No. 1 seed or a No. 2 seed.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.