Gonzaga not only broke through in their first-ever Final Four, they have a chance to finally put the doubters to rest with a date with North Carolina in the National Championship Game.
Gonzaga has an unprecedented opportunity for themselves tomorrow night. After eking out a tough victory over scrappy South Carolina yesterday. The most dominant Gonzaga team in two decades now has a chance to defeat one of the superpowers of college basketball.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams is returning his squad to the National Title Game for the second consecutive season. Everyone knows that the roots and foundations of this basketball program go deep into basketball lore. Despite 19 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, Gonzaga is still seen as a small fry swimming with the sharks in the Big Dance.
68 teams representing all D-I basketball conferences in the country in every NCAA Tournament invariably lets in small mid-majors. A few always slay a giant or two on their way to being swept aside by the North Carolinas of the Tournament (usually).
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Gonzaga is no Wichita State. Mark Few took a tiny Catholic college in Eastern Washington, a region disregarded by pretty much everyone, especially those in the Seattle sports market.* But despite the Bulldogs’ consistent success, college basketball fans and national media outlets alike cling like monks to the belief that somehow Gonzaga can’t play with the big boys.
Tomorrow night will be a moment to finally silence the haters around the country who still think that the one-loss Zags are somehow not a basketball power themselves. A National Title is the final piece for Few’s mantle after finally ending a long Final Four drought. Knocking off the Tar Heels on national television likely won’t silence the critics of the Zags (fans can be stubborn in their views, as you know. Here at ECS, we have angry fans constantly bashing our Mock Drafts. Literally no Mock Draft has ever been accurate in the history of Mock Drafts. Calling decisions made in a hypothetical draft dumb is similar to going back and calling every analyst wrong after the real Draft. Just stop.)
If Gonzaga finds a way to defeat mighty North Carolina tomorrow night, I don’t want to hear the Bulldogs can’t play with anyone else in the country anymore.
*Here’s a meme that explains the Eastern-Western Washington divide better than a thousand words.