No. 1 Gonzaga avoids becoming first to lose to 16 seed

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No. 1 seed Gonzaga dodged a bullet.

With four minutes left in their opening round game against No. 16 Southern, the Zags were tied at 54 with the Jaguars of the SWAC. For those that don’t know, a No. 1 seed has never, ever lost to a No. 16 seed. Ever. This was the brink of something historic.

And then Kevin Pangos hit a jumper. And Gary Bell hit a three that was set up by Pangos. And then Pangos his a three from deep in the corner, giving Gonzaga a 62-58 lead with just over a minute left.

That was enough, as Gonzaga held on to beat Southern 64-58.

But it certainly wasn’t a statement win by any stretch of the imagination.

So here’s the question you need to ask: Was this a sign of things to come, or was this simply a case of Gonzaga strugglingly under the pressure of being a No. 1 seed out of the WCC? Because I’ll be honest, with the exception of Kelly Olynyk — who scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half — and Pangos, the Zags looked terrified and hesitant on Thursday.

They didn’t look like the team that I watched this season, the one that I thought had as good of a chance to win the national title as anyone and that I picked to make it all the way to the title game. And the most important thing for the Zags to do is to get this game out of their mind as quickly as possible.

Everyone is entitled to one rough night in this tournament. There’s a reason it’s called “survive and advance”.

And luckily, Gonzaga survived.

Because a loss would have set mid-major basketball back a decade.

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You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.