On Saturday morning, earlier than top-ranked Gonzaga casually tossed apart Sixteenth-ranked Virginia identical to that large rubbish bag full of wrapping paper you continue to have at your private home, KenPom.com estimated the Zags’ possibilities at ending the common season undefeated to be 24.3%.
Then Gonzaga mowed over Virginia 98-75, finishing its sixth recreation out of seven reaching at the least 90 factors, toppling a fourth Prime 25 foe within the course of. When KenPom’s rankings refreshed after the win, Gonzaga moved from No. 2, behind Baylor, again to No. 1 atop the predictive metric. Its probabilities of going undefeated spiked too: Pomeroy’s algorithm now has Mark Few’s squad with a 44.1% likelihood of ending the common season with out a scratch.
In some way, 44.1% nonetheless feels too low.
Few has constructed a behemoth, a lot in order that this crew has faculty basketball buzzing about how nice it may be — in all-time phrases. Already. Gonzaga’s hype is reaching ranges usually saved for the likes of Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke or Kansas of their best seasons. We’re not even into January and the largest on-court query in faculty basketball is loud, apparent and seemingly destined to not go away earlier than March.
Can anybody beat Gonzaga?
It is not simply the wins or the opponents, it is the informal dominance on show in these video games. These nonchalant shellackings recall to mind Alabama’s greatest groups underneath Nick Saban. However that is Alabama, out of the SEC.
That is Gonzaga, out of the WCC.
John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, Invoice Self, Roy Williams, Tom Izzo — Corridor of Fame coaches at blue blood packages — have a look at Few’s roster and should really feel deep envy. What a curve within the plot. Bob Huggins’ West Virginia crew boasts the very best efficiency thus far in opposition to GU … and it misplaced by 5 whereas “holding” Gonzaga to a season-low 87 factors … in a recreation that had future top-five choose Jalen Suggs depart briefly due to an harm scare.
On Saturday, GU appeared to conquer UVA with a flick of the wrist. Corey Kispert’s wrist. The preseason First Crew All-American — who, with good cause, has been often overshadowed by Suggs and macho-mustachioed sophomore Drew Timme — reminded the nation why he was thought of elite heading into 2020-21. Kispert sank a school-record 9 3-pointers (together with one from Dame vary) and completed with a game-high 32 factors. Timme added 29 for good measure.
Here is what an afterthought of a day for Suggs seems to be like: eight factors, seven rebounds, six assists, 4 steals. Gonzaga’s not truthful.
At 7-0, it has a stranglehold on the No. 1 rating and figures to not let go of it for the remainder of the common season. Inevitable victims Northern Arizona and Dixie State are due up subsequent, the video games scheduled for Monday and Tuesday again in Spokane. The Bulldogs are projected to win every of these by 34 factors. The final time a crew outdoors the power-conference construction was doing this to its competitors with regularity, there was a person chewing a towel on the sidelines who was turning the game on its head.
His title was Jerry Tarkanian and he coached UNLV to a 30-0 document heading into the NCAA Match.
Some parallels are beginning to come into focus.
So right here I’m, prepared to interrupt one among my few faculty hoops cardinal guidelines. As a result of Gonzaga is that good. I’ve lengthy believed that, previous to the tip of January or early February, sincerely discussing a school basketball crew’s probabilities of attending to the NCAA Match with out a loss is generally a misplaced trigger. A majority of the time, when this subject surfaces in December or early January, it is often ill-fated. Solely three groups previously 40 seasons have made it to the NCAA Match unscathed.
Most seasons, groups cannot even make it to Valentine’s Day.
Previously 40 years, the one groups to not take an L previous to the Dance are 1990-91 UNLV, 2013-14 Wichita State and 2014-15 Kentucky. None gained a nationwide title, however two made the Ultimate 4.
However even on this pandemic-cursed season, Gonzaga is trying like a assured choose to be the fourth crew since 1979 to hold a bagel within the loss column come Choice Sunday. We will have this dialogue now. We will discuss Gonzaga’s possibilities to go undefeated into March as a result of it is trying rather a lot like it is going to go undefeated into March. There’s usually a requisite “barring harm” preface to those claims, however to hell with that: Gonzaga is nice sufficient to get there even when one among its starters have been to endure an harm (and let’s hope no such factor happens). That is essentially the most loaded crew in faculty basketball; nobody matches GU’s offensive ceiling, that is for positive. It is the No. 1-rated offense regardless of rating eightieth in 3-point proportion (36.4%), which is not a glitch. It is scary Gonzaga is breaking fashionable basketball doctrines by being so nice with no need to be even persistently good from 3.
The Zags have a troika of studs adequate to be First Crew All-People, which is one thing that is been true of a given faculty basketball crew in a single season, what, 5 occasions ever? If that? Timme, Kispert and Suggs comprise the very best trio in faculty hoops. Joel Ayayi and Andrew Nembhard can be alphas on many different groups. For Gonzaga, they assist refill the crust.
Put it this fashion: Gonzaga performed the reigning nationwide champions on Saturday, a crew projected to be the very best within the ACC, coached by Tony Bennett, who’s universally thought to be a top-10 coach … uh, Gonzaga pulled its starters with greater than 5 minutes remaining.
If the Bulldogs have an equal this season, we have but to see foolproof proof of that. The superior metrics counsel Baylor is true there. Perhaps that is true. We would by no means know. These two have been speculated to play earlier this month, however the coronavirus prevented it from occurring. Maybe the match will reward a make-up affair. Let’s hope so, as a result of at this level it seems to be like the one groups with the roster, teaching and expertise to have a practical likelihood vs. Gonzaga are Baylor, Villanova and possibly Kansas in a rematch. (The primary model had Gonzaga successful by 12 and scoring 102 factors with out a hitch.)
If we get any of these, it will likely be excellent news; odds are they’d occur on a Ultimate 4 stage and fairly probably with an undefeated Gonzaga crew, this David-turned-Goliath out of the West Coast Convention, chasing immortality. A yr after dropping the NCAA Match for the primary time in historical past, that may be fairly an unimaginable story in American sports activities.