Gonzaga Breaks New Ground as No. 1 Seed in NCAA Tournament

US PRESSWIRE

The Bulldogs will be dancing from the top line in the West in the NCAA Tournament. There should have been no doubts, and they should be booking flights for Atlanta.

That was history that you all just heard. Gonzaga is a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

"The last number one seed, going to Gonzaga ," said Greg Gumbel, making it official.

Since 1985, when the tournament expanded to 64 teams and was officially seeded as we have now, almost all of the teams on the top line had come from the major conferences, or conferences considered major leagues at the time. The Big 10, Big 8, Big 12, WAC, Mountain West, Pac-8, 10, 12, etc. Even Conference USA earned a couple of top bids when they were still sporting the teams that bolted for the Big East.

The only team to buck that trend was Memphis, who earned two top spots, in 2006 and 2008. One of those turned into a title game appearance. The other ended in the Elite 8. Bottom line, it is a good sign for the Zags that they will be dancing from a spot of power.

That they landed the top spot came with a little bit of controversy. There had been griping over the Gonzaga schedule -- all over which is overwrought. You can't blame them for being in the West Coast Conference, a league that is perfect in terms of its history and makeup for the Zags. You can't say that they have scheduled down when they faced five teams from the Big 12, and Davidson, and Butler, and Illinois. They put teams on the docket, and then took care of all but two of them.

RealTime RPI rates their schedule at No. 74 in the country. No it isn't great, but a lot of that came from the bottom of its own league. They were No. 48 in the country in the nonconference slate, which is pretty darn good.

But do we doubt that Gonzaga is one of the top eight teams in the country, or one of the top four? Having seen them -- built like a major conference squad with frontcourt depth, strong guard play and a player in Kelly Olynyk that is one of the favorites for winning at least one major award -- they sure look the part.

The two losses came on a fluke shot by Butler, and then at a time when Illinois was rolling and nothing seemed to be able to stop them. They ran into a hot team (and the same might be said about the Bulldogs).

They are one of those teams that belongs.

And the committee is tasked with keeping teams closer to home. It is arguable that no one deserves that honor more west of the Mississippi River than Gonzaga. New Mexico might have a claim to a better resume (more top 50 wins, more top 100 wins), but it is hard to look away from a two-loss overall record when it comes down to it.

This team should be headed to Los Angeles, and then to Atlanta. Then it will be a matter of who makes it out of the South.

Perhaps those that called for a Final Four from this team weren't so crazy after all. Congrats on making history Gonzaga. Now go do something with it.

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