Johnathan Williams and Silas Melson are graduatin

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  • elvafeng

    Before people start jumping to the early conclusion that Gonzaga basketball is “overrated” heading into 2018 19, here is why they will be ranked so high.
    There are very few things in college basketball that fans can count on year in and year out. Arguing about whether or not Gonzaga is overrated, though, is one of those recurring topics. The Bulldogs are consistently one of the top programs in the nation yet they do not get nearly the respect of even some average high major teams. The Zags’ weak conference affiliation is a large part of this disrespect but at some point that has to be thrown out of the window.

    Gonzaga currently has the fourth longest active streak sixth longest of all time in reaching the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons with 20. Considering how difficult it is to make it to the Big Dance from a one or two bid league like the West Coast Conference, this streak is even more impressive. The Bulldogs deserve to be firmly solidified among the elite in college basketball and the 2018 19 campaign will be no different.

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    When preseason polls for next season come out, you can definitely count on Gonzaga being in the top 10. And when that Rui Hachimura Jersey  happens, earplugs may be necessary to disregard the comments of “Gonzaga is overrated every year. What do they ever do?” that will inevitably be said, tweeted, or posted.

    Historically speaking…
    Despite the “overrated” narrative that has surrounded Gonzaga over the years , the program has been extremely successful during the 21st century. To prove this point, let’s take a look back at how the Bulldogs have performed relative to their seed in the NCAA Tournament. The only “upset” that I consider to be matching seed expectation is a No. 9 seed reaching the second round. Other than that, expectations are determined by how long a team should dance based on how often they should be the higher seed.

    “Overachieved” relative to their seed in 6 seasons.
    Matched their seed relative to expectation in 8 seasons.
    Underperformed relative to seed in 5 seasons.
    They also lost one time in the first round as an underdog.
    These numbers show just how tremendous Mark Few has been in both the regular season and the postseason. They have either matched or exceeded expectations of 14 of their 20 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, something not many programs can say. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that the program has reached the Sweet 16 in four consecutive seasons as well as making the national championship game in 2017. Even though they did not cut down the final nets that season, that does not take away from how successful that year was.

    Why might the 2018 19 campaign be so special?

    Even though Johnathan Williams and Silas Melson are graduating, Gonzaga returns an immense amount of talent. Most notably, juniors Rui Hachimura and Killian Tillie along with sophomores Zach Norvell and Corey Kispert will be asked to play even bigger roles during this upcoming campaign. All of these players could be double digit scorers per game and that kind of balance is hard to match by opponents.

    In addition, Gonzaga is bringing in some excellent newcomers. First, transfer Brandon Clarke joins the rotation after  sitting out this past season. In 2016 17, Clarke averaged 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game for San Jose State. After that, coveted top 100 recruit Filip Petrusev represents an extremely versatile 6’10” big man. Lastly, talented French guard Joel Ayayi joins the program as possibly the most underrated addition to any 2018 19 team.

    Rounding things out, coaching is incredibly important in college basketball. Aside from a few exceptions, most teams that make deep runs in the NCAA Tournament are led by elite head coaches. Mark Few definitely belongs in that category of top tier coaches as it seems like it is impossible for him to have a bad season.

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