For the first time ever, the Gonzaga Men’s Basketball team is ranked No.1 in the AP Top 25 poll. For over a decade now, the Zags have been the most successful and dominant mid-major program in a growing field of great mid-majors. I remember falling in love with Gonzaga hoops as a 6th grader back in 2001. They were that tough, small school that most of us non-West Coasters knew little about. They played with reckless abandon and consistently took down the big dogs. Since Mark Few took over as Head Coach in 1999, the Zags have payed some of the best and most consistent basketball in the country, every year.
Much of what Brad Stevens has been able to accomplish at Butler is based off of Mark Few’s model. They find ‘diamonds in the rough’ in recruiting and outwork their opponents, while playing an efficient, Euro-style offense. Few’s recruiting creativity is seen in a lineup this year that includes several Canadians, an African, a German, and a Pole. It’s no wonder that Gonzaga flies under the radar every year. The Foreigners come in every year with hardly any pressure from American media so they play loose, kick ass, and take names. Year after year, they end up in the Sweet 16. This year, though, I think that’s where their run ends. They’ll be going into the tourney as a No.1 (most likely) so they won’t sneak up on anyone. They’ll have a target on their back. I’m predicting an upset loss in the Sweet 16 this year. While I would love to see the Zags finally break through and make it to the Final Four, there’s just so much parity in college hoops this season. March Madness is gonna be up for grabs, and I think the Fightin’ Foreigners are in for an early exit.