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Gonzaga will be overrated every season until they win a championship or join the PAC-12 Conference

On April 5, 2021, the Gonzaga Bulldogs lost to the Baylor Bears at the NCAA National Championship Game in Indianapolis 70-86. Many questions arose about the Bulldogs' schedule strength and legitness after their devasting loss, ruining their perfect season finishing 31-1. Here are the teams Gonzaga plays every year in the West Coast Conference, and in parentheses is the last time the school made the NCAA Tournament and their record from this past season:

  • Brigham Young University (2021), (20-7)

  • Loyola Marymount University (1990), (13-9)

  • University of the Pacific (2013), (9-9)

  • Pepperdine University (2002), (15-12)

  • University of Portland (1996), (6-15)

  • Saint Mary's College of California (2019), (14-10)

  • University of San Diego (2008), (3-11)

  • University of San Francisco (1998), (11-14)

  • Santa Clara University (1996), (12-8)

Each season, Gonzaga's only real competitors are BYU and Saint Mary's College of California, and some of their out-of-conference games they play every year at the Maui Invitational or even just an individual game. This season, they did manage to beat Kansas, Auburn, West Virginia, Iowa, and Virginia at the beginning of the season for out-of-conference play. They did manage to beat some good competitive teams in the 2021 NCAA Tournament knocking off Oklahoma, Creighton, USC, and a stunning UCLA team. But every year Gonzaga's season comes to an end with a devastating loss. It's the same story every year. Gonzaga is ranked in the pre-season Top 5, win almost all of their conference games with maybe one loss, become number one ranked in the AP 25 for continuous weeks, become a high seed in the NCAA Tournament (with an exception of the 2016 tournament), and then lose in the Elite Eight, The Final Four, or The National Championship game. In the list below are the past six years of Gonzaga's postseason history:

  • 2015: Entered 35-2, number two seed, lost to Duke in the Elite Eight 66-52

  • 2016: Entered 28-9, number eleven seed, lost to Syracuse in Sweet Sixteen 63-60

  • 2017: Entered 37-1, number one seed, lost to North Carolina in Championship game 71-65

  • 2018: Entered 32-4, number four seed, lost to Florida State in Sweet Sixteen 75-60

  • 2019: Entered 33-3, number one seed, lost to Texas Tech in Elite Eight 75-69

  • 2021: Entered 31-0, number one seed, lost to Baylor in Championship game 86-70

These stats show a pattern in the Zags' losses in the NCAA Tournament. Their losses come from a more athletic, dominant team than the Bulldogs. For this year's tournament, the Baylor Bears were way more dominant and physical than the Zags. The toughness came into rebounding and size. The Bears out-rebounded the Bulldogs 38-22, with the Bears having sixteen offensive rebounds compared to the Zags' five.

I think the Gonzaga Bulldogs are overrated every season. People always tell me that, "this is Gonzaga's year!" but in reality, it hasn't. Ever. I had a deep feeling that maybe this is Gonzaga's year and had some hope in them WHEN they won their buzzer-beater game against UCLA 93-90 in OT in the Final Four game. Not earlier in the season, but after their Final Four game. Even though the Zags had their first 5-star recruit point guard, Jalen Suggs, in school history, I still had no faith in them because of their history with tournament games and their lack of experience playing AP Top-25 teams during the regular season. I think Gonzaga will not become overrated anymore if they do one of these two things:

  1. Win the NCAA Tournament

  2. Join the PAC-12 Conference

Winning the NCAA Tournament and just staying in the WCC is a more doable and realistic option but the Zags championship chances will rise higher if they join the PAC-12 and get good experience playing better and more physical teams than their fellow West Coast Conference competitors. Listed below are the PAC-12 teams and in parentheses are the last time they made the tournament and their 2020-2021 record:

  • University of Arizona (2018), (17-9)

  • Arizona State University (2019), (11-14)

  • University of California Berkeley (2016), (9-20)

  • University of California Los Angeles (2021), (22-10)

  • University of Colorado Boulder (2021), (23-9)

  • University of Oregon (2021), (21-7)

  • Oregon State University (2021), (20-13)

  • University of Southern California (2021), (25-8)

  • Stanford University (2014), (14-13)

  • University of Utah (2016), (12-13)

  • University of Washington (2019), (5-21)

  • Washington State University (2008), (14-13)

To prove the legitimacy of the PAC-12 being greater and just an overall better conference than the WCC even more, looking at the Strength of Schedule (SOS) rank, given by ESPN for all D1 schools, can divide and draw a clear line between the PAC-12 and the WCC. With Gonzaga's SOS number being 72, this is how the WCC and the PAC-12 fare with the Zags:

West Coast Conference: (average SOS: 94)

  • Brigham Young University: 78

  • Loyola Marymount University: 103

  • University of the Pacific: 94

  • Pepperdine University: 95

  • University of Portland: 116

  • Saint Mary's College of California: 77

  • University of San Diego: 85

  • University of San Francisco: 92

  • Santa Clara University: 127

PAC-12: (average SOS: 52)

  • University of Arizona: 75

  • Arizona State University: 51

  • University of California Berkeley: 67

  • University of California Los Angeles: 28

  • University of Colorado Boulder: 63

  • University of Oregon: 61

  • Oregon State University: 46

  • University of Southern California: 48

  • Stanford University: 49

  • University of Utah: 59

  • University of Washington: 32

  • Washington State University: 79

Looking at the numbers, it's clear that the PAC-12 is a way better, stronger, and has a harder strength of schedule resume than the West Coast Conference. Then there's the argument of what team in the PAC-12 will trade places with Gonzaga. That's not the point of this article, but possibly a future one though. The point being said is that the stats and numbers of conference and tournament play and Gonzaga's history of heart-breaking tournament losses prove that Gonzaga is overrated each season. People think Gonzaga's losses in the tournament are "heart-breaking" where in reality it's not. It's expected each year out of them. I even knew once they landed super-start recruit, Jalen Suggs, that they still weren't going to win the NCAA Tournament. Not just me, but a majority of college basketball fans will continue to hold their stance that Gonzaga is overrated unless they finally win their first championship or, in some miracle, but very possible, join the PAC-12.

Look at it this way. In a game of one on one of pickup basketball for the REC center championship, would you choose the kid who was undefeated in the regular season, played kids who were lower than his skill level, and eased his way through each round beating each kid by twenty. Or will you choose the kid who wasn't undefeated but played kids who were their skill level and even above and fought their way each round to reach the championship game playing other guys who were closely seeded as him. Like any smart individual, I would choose the kid who played real competition throughout the season and reached the championship game with a season-long experience of playing guys his skill level and knowing what to do in close game scenarios.

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