Once again, Gonzaga basketball is the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament bracket. Despite losing multiple key pieces from last year’s national finalist roster, the Bulldogs are once again viewed as one of the top teams in all of college basketball.
Mark Few guided an uber-talented roster to a final record of 26-3. Although Gonzaga lost its perfect West Coast Conference record on the final day of the regular season, revenge matriculate in the WCC Tournament. The Zags took down Saint Mary’s to capture the conference tournament title for the tenth time in the last 12 years.
For as successful as the Gonzaga basketball program has become under Few, an NCAA National Championship banner is still absent from the rafters at The Kennel. Could this be the year that the Bulldogs deliver a national title to Spokane? How far will Gonzaga go in the 2022 NCAA Tournament?
Gonzaga Basketball Bracketology | NCAA Tournament Preview
Overall Record: 26-3
Conference Record: 13-1
Record vs. Ranked Teams: 5-3
How Far Will Gonzaga Basketball Go in the NCAA Tournament?
How Far Could Gonzaga Go?
The answer to this question is simple: ALL THE WAY BABY! College basketball betting oddsmakers obviously know what they are doing. Gonzaga basketball is not the favorite among the championship futures odds just because. Although this year's team may not have the superstar talent as that of a year ago, the Bulldogs still have swaths of skill and depth.
Drew Timme led the Zags in scoring this season averaging 17.5 per game. Unless a team manages to shut him down the way Saint Mary's did in the regular-season finale, Gonzaga basketball fans can always count on Timme getting his. Future NBA lottery pick Chet Holmgren lived up to the hype and then some during his freshman season. He fell four rebounds shy of averaging a double-double and gave the Bulldogs a rim-protector unlike any they have had in recent years.
Florida transfer Andrew Nembhard took on an increased role for Gonzaga this season as well. He joined backcourt cohorts Julian Strawther and Rasir Bolton averaging in double figures while also leading the team in assists. With a combination of talent both inside and out, this year's Gonzaga basketball team might be one of the most versatile ever. For so many seasons, the Bulldogs' philosophy has been to simply pile up points and outscore opponents. This year, the Zags proved that they can play defense to win as well.
Strength of schedule is always something that Gonzaga's critics like to point a finger at. Even that is difficult to do this season given how strong the WCC was. Both Saint Mary's and San Francisco joined the Zags in reaching the NCAA Tournament. Meanwhile, both BYU and Santa Clara earned NIT bids. Gonzaga still made it look easy in the majority of their games.
How Far Will the Bulldogs Go?
For a No. 1 overall seed, Gonzaga basketball didn't exactly receive the most favorable draw. While it's difficult to project any "easy" wins after their First Round matchup, the Bulldogs' talent should ultimately prevail and send them on another extended NCAA Tournament run. A tussle with Memphis in the Second Round could be tricky, but the Tigers' lack of consistency this season gives a clear nod to Gonzaga.
The second weekend of the tournament is where matchups really start to become relevant as far as how far Gonzaga will go. Both Arkansas and UConn would present a unique challenge. From a size standpoint, the Zags do figure to match up better with the Razorbacks. Mark Few's team should ultimately emerge from the Sweet 16 victoriously regardless of who they draw.
The Elite Eight could also produce a fascinating matchup. Duke certainly has the offensive talent to keep pace with Gonzaga, but the Blue Devils' defense leaves much to be desired. On the contrary, Texas Tech would prefer to play a slow, defensive-minded game against Gonzaga should that be the matchup. Neither opponent will be easy, but the Bulldogs have what it takes to get by both and reach the Final Four.
Assuming that chalk holds in the East Region and one of Baylor, Kentucky or UCLA reached New Orleans, Gonzaga may have to settle for coming up short of a national championship yet again. The talent of each of those teams is more than comparable to that of the Bulldogs. Gonzaga's lack of a true game-changing player could be what ultimately dooms them in their quest for a title. However, in a year where there are truly no "great" teams in college basketball, anything is possible.