The new polls came out today and as expected Gonzaga is the new #1 team in the country. I’m having a hard time excepting that fact. Sure they own an impressive 29-2 record, but it was largely built by romping through a weak West Coast Conference. Gonzaga has racked up 17 wins against teams ranked 101st or lower in the RPI. Their two losses were against Butler and at home to Illinois.
They have ascended to the top of the polls not because of any impressive wins, but because teams that play in real conferences have been losing games. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the last 12 games on the regular season schedule for Gonzaga and Michigan.
That’s not exactly a killer stretch for Gonzaga. San Francisco was good once, back when Bill Russell starred for the dons. The San Diego on that schedule is not to be confused with San Diego State, a team that is actually good. St. Mary’s isn’t as good as they’ve been the last few years and last time I checked Steve Nash no longer plays for Santa Clara. Pepperdine has a basketball team?
Do you think the Zags would have run off 12 straight wins if they flipped schedules with the Wolverines? Do you think Michigan would have gone 3-4 in February with Gonzaga’s schedule?
Meanwhile Michigan State is about to wrap up this 4-game stretch: vs Indiana, at Ohio State, at Michigan and vs Wisconsin – all teams ranked in the Top 25.
I can’t help but wonder how many losses the Bulldogs would have if they played in the Big Ten. Instead they roll through a soft conference and get to claim a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament? That makes no sense. How would they fare if they were in the ACC?
They can have the #1 ranking, but it’s that top seed in the NCAA Tournament that I really can’t wrap my head around. It just seems to me that the teams in the power conferences are going to be punished for having to play tough conference schedules. Give Indiana Gonzaga’s schedule and I’m pretty confident the Hoosiers would be sitting at 31-0 right now. Instead they’ve gone through the grind in the Big Ten and dropped 3 conference games (they also lost to Butler in a non-conference tilt).
Unless something shocking happens in the West Coast Conference tournament, Gonzaga will be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The problem is there will be a team more deserving of that seed, slotted as a #2 because they played in the Big Ten or ACC.