Get to know all of the NCAA Tournament’s automatic bids here.
Conference: West Coast Conference
Coach: Mark Few
Record: 28-6 (15-3 West Coast Conference)
Rankings and Ratings:
– Kenpom: 19
– RPI: 24
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked
Seeding?: In Dave Ommen’s most recent bracket, the Zags were a No. 9 seed.
Names you need to know: Kevin Pangos (14.2 ppg, 3.3 apg, 41.3% 3PT), Sam Dower (14.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg), Gary Bell Jr. (11.1 ppg, 41.7% 3PT)
Stats you need to know: Gonzaga has developed a reputation for being a team that scores a ton of points without a care for the defensive end of the floor. That’s hasn’t been entirely true throughout Mark Few’s tenure, and it certainly isn’t true this season. Gonzaga is 19th nationally in defensive efficiency after being ranked closer to 150th towards the end of non-conference play. They were a full tenth of a point better per possession defensively than any other team in the conference. If you’re not familiar with advanced stats, that’s a massive number.
Tendencies: The Zags will once again enter the tournament with a reputation for being a team that is built around shooting threes, and while that’s not necessarily inaccurate — they do spread the floor with guys that bury open looks — this is once again an offense structured around their front court. Sam Dower is the team’s leading scorer playing alongside Przemek Karnowski, a 7-foot-1 left-handed Polish mountain.
Big wins, bad losses: Winning the automatic bid was huge for the Zags because their best win (BYU) doesn’t quite make up for their worst losses (San Diego, Portland).
How’d they get here?: Gonzaga rolled through the WCC tournament, blowing out both Saint Mary’s and BYU in the process.
Outlook: This Gonzaga team is not as good as last year’s team, and their biggest issue might be the fact that they weren’t quite bad enough throughout the year to avoid the 8-9 game. They can beat a No. 8 seed. I’m not sure that they are good enough to knock off one of the top four teams in the country. The good news? Their tournament ended early, which means that Kevin Pangos now has more than a week to rest up and get his toe as healthy as possible.
How do I know you?: Adam’s tears?