Blaming Gonzaga’s WCC affiliation for NCAA championship loss is a disservice to basketball — and logic


What faculty basketball wants proper now: followers within the stands coaches out on the recruiting path, watching five-star prospects and undiscovered gems on the Nike Peach Jam, and groups touring to play highway video games with out worry they’ll be referred to as off due to contact tracing. Hopefully the game will be capable of return to all of those important components very quickly.

What faculty basketball doesn’t want, ever: faculty soccer’s galling elitism.

The NCAA Event is an egalitarian enterprise. For all of the carping about how mid-major applications don’t get a good deal, they’re assured annually roughly one-third of the sector — one-third of the alternatives to compete for a nationwide championship. Some, such because the Loyola Ramblers in 2018, advance extraordinarily close to to claiming that title. The Gonzaga Bulldogs got here so shut so typically and invested a lot in pursuing excellence they had been in a position to outgrow the mid-major label.

For all they accomplish, although, there nonetheless are some prepared to destroy logic within the try and shove them again into that class.

MORE: Baylor reminds Gonzaga of how powerful it’s to win it — and them — all

The Zags proceed to compete within the West Coast Convention. They’ve gained or shared its regular-season championship in 20 of the previous 21 seasons. They haven’t missed an NCAA Event since 1998.

And if that was the place all of it stopped — coming into the match, going house shortly — maybe there can be a case that remaining as a WCC member is an obstacle that can not be overcome. The Zags nonetheless had been alive in March Insanity 2021, although, because it steamrolled into April for the Ultimate 4.

They nonetheless had been alive at 9:18 p.m. Monday, carrying an ideal report into tipoff of the NCAA championship sport. It was the second time since 2017 they received that far within the match. They got here near successful the title in 2017, a one-point sport towards North Carolina with 50 seconds remaining turning right into a six-point Tar Heels victory. The Zags had been crushed soundly, this time, by a unprecedented Baylor staff that carried out on the peak of its sport.

Lots of people watched what occurred and got here to this conclusion: Enjoying within the WCC didn’t put together the Zags for the match. They weren’t battle-tested. That’s why they misplaced. Not the ten 3-pointers the Bears made, or their 48.5 offensive rebound share, or Gonzaga All-American Corey Kispert’s instantly wayward capturing.

However no, it was Pepperdine’s fault.

Mercifully, nobody amongst America’s sporting media was silly sufficient to suggest this principle to Gonzaga coach Mark Few following the loss to Baylor, so I’ve no quotes from him to embellish this column. I’ve solely info, which ought to scream loudly to everybody that “battle-tested” is a delusion. The Zags’ problem in successful the NCAA championships comes all the way down to — and this can be exhausting to understand — it’s troublesome to win an NCAA championship.

MORE: Breaking down the 1-minute, 36-second stretch that ended Gonzaga’s title hopes

Since 2015, when the Zags superior to the Elite Eight with Kyle Wiltjer as their star participant, Gonzaga has gained extra NCAA Event video games than some other program.

Its 20 NCAA victories are greater than two-time champion Villanova (17), greater than North Carolina (16), greater than Duke (15), greater than Kansas and Kentucky (13 every) and greater than Wisconsin (10). That’s proper. You line up the blue bloods, the current major-conference powers, and Gonzaga’s NCAA Event success — whereas supposedly being hindered by the WCC — exceeds everybody.

In that six-tournament interval, it took the eventual NCAA champion to remove them 3 times and a Ultimate 4 entrant to remove them twice. They’ve reached two Ultimate Fours in that interval. Solely Villanova, North Carolina and Michigan State can say the identical. These are among the groups Gonzaga has defeated in that point: Florida State, Iowa, West Virginia, Creighton, Ohio State, USC, UCLA (twice).

Oh, and Baylor.

The Bulldogs have reached six consecutive Candy 16s. No different energetic faculty staff can match that streak. In actual fact, because the match growth to 64 groups in 1985, solely three different occasions has such a streak been achieved: twice by Duke, and as soon as by North Carolina.

If the Zags aren’t correctly ready for the NCAA Event, then who on Earth is?

MORE: Baylor ends Gonzaga’s good season with a Texas-sized storybook end

The 2 highest-rated conferences in line with the NCAA’s NET system in 2020-21 had been the Large Ten and Large 12. They produced 16 NCAA match bids between them, however solely two groups that superior so far as the Candy 16. Their expertise means that being “battle-tested” really is likely to be a detriment in pursuit of a championship ring.

The dismissal of Gonzaga is a product of the elitism that bleeds over from faculty soccer, which is so entrenched in its aristocracy that it refuses even to permit applications to earn championship alternatives on the sector, whether or not they come from the wealthiest conferences or past. Within the Faculty Soccer Playoff invitational, groups don’t earn their positions within the match. They’re, universally, chosen.

A Gonzaga by no means would stand an opportunity in such an operation, however the Zags are welcome in faculty basketball. The sport’s most rational followers perceive their worth, their expertise and their achievement.

This is right. It’s actually not sophisticated. The info can’t be disputed, solely ignored.


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