It has arrived. It’s the best time of the year for any college basketball fan. March Madness is filled with upsets, cinderellas, buzzer-beaters, and the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Gonzaga has played in 24 straight NCAA Tournaments. Of course, no one counts the 2020 year because the tournament was canceled. Their streak ranks third in the country. Simply put, this program has been a staple in March. When you flip on TruTV and TBS in March, you expect to see the Bulldogs.
Let’s dive into where the Bulldogs currently stand in this bracket and how they can possibly get to the Final Four. Let’s start with the bad news. Their region is STACKED. I am not kidding. There are five teams in this region that rank inside the top 11, according to KenPom.
Inside the West Region resides Kansas, UCLA, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, and Uconn. That is just a brutal slate. There is also a fury of really good lower seeds that sit here, too, like the Iona Gaels, VCU Rams, and the TCU Horned Frogs. According to DraftKings, there are four of the top teams who are the favorites to win the tournament, all living in this bracket.
Looking at other regions at this point, you can see that the West will be the most difficult to get out of. However, there is some hope for Gonzaga, where being a three-seed in this region might be the best place. Let’s run through a mock of this bracket, picking the teams we think the Bulldogs could run into and show precisely why they can make the Final Four.
Round of 64 vs. Grand Canyon University –
I think Bryce Drew had a nice story this year getting the Antelopes to the NCAA Tournament again, but this is no real match for a team like Gonzaga that can score, can force turnovers, and have likely more experience than most of the teams in the tournament.
I think this is an easy move on through the Round of 64 game for Mark Few’s team.
Round of 32 vs. Texas Christian University –
I have TCU beating either Arizona State or Nevada in their Round of 64 game. TCU has spurts where they can’t score. They are good defensively, and they have one of the better scorers in the country in Mike Miles. But they had some bad skids this season, and if that happens against Gonzaga. That’s going to be tough.
Sweet 16 vs. UCLA –
Here is where things can get interesting. The Bruins are a two-seed for a reason, and Gonzaga has to respect that. But they are without their star defensive player Jaylen Clark and their big man Adem Bona. He is their big man that could have protected down low and taken on any Gonzaga scorer. Without him, this team can still make a deep tournament run, but their chances are definitely hampered. The Bruins have struggled with perimeter shooting at times this year, and their defensive rebounding is a massive red flag.
If this was a healthy UCLA squad with all their players available, I think we would be talking about an entirely different story.
Elite Eight vs. Uconn –
The Huskies are sneakily one of the best teams in this region, even if they don’t have the eye appeal of Kansas, UCLA, and Gonzaga. This team has a serious chance to win a National Championship this season, and that’s not hyperbole. They have size, insane depth, and a top-10 offense that pairs with a top-25 defense. Those are as good of metrics as you can ask for. They were able to beat Alabama 82-67 this season. Dan Hurley has never won a game in the tournament, but this is the season where it could all go down.
If the Bulldogs can skirt through those first four games and get wins in all of them, it will set up an intriguing matchup in the Final Four. The best options to take on Mark Few’s squad at that point are Houston and Texas. We already saw what the Longhorns can do much earlier in the season.
If they get to the Final Four, let’s talk then. But for now, here is the blueprint to getting to Houston. It is never a good idea to count out a Gonzaga team. They are on this stage year after year for a reason, and they have one of the most experienced tournament coaches of all time.