Gonzaga's effort at Saint Mary's Saturday night was nothing short of remarkable. The Zags dominated from opening tip and proved the Bulldogs are not a team to be messed with come March, but despite the warm-fuzzy feelings after that win--and the possible Associated Press top-10 ranking coming their way Monday afternoon--Gonzaga fans woke up to unsettling news Sunday morning when the NCAA selection committee released their March Madness Bracket preview.
Hey...what gives?! No Gonzaga in the top-16? Seems like a slap in the face for the Bulldogs, right? First, let's discuss what goes into the committee's thought process when doling out seeding. Then, let's ask the question:
Do Gonzaga fans have a legitimate gripe with the committee one month away from Selection Sunday?
First and foremost, before I get into Gonzaga's resume, it's important to understand the intricacies of the committee's reasoning. The process is a bit different from what we've seen in the past.
Let's go through a few buzz words:
1. RPI or Ratings Percentage Index:
This isn't new, but 25 percent relies on a team's winning percentage and than the other 75 percent relies on strength of schedule. So the better teams you play and the better teams your opponent plays and the more you win...the higher your RPI will be.
2. KenPom, Sagarin & BPI (Basketball Power Index) Rankings:
You might hear pundits talk about KenPom, Sagarin or BPI rankings. So, if RPI is a results-based measurement, these three above are predictive-type measurements. They all have different analytical formulas and don't worry about any of that. These just simply try to tell us who the best teams in the country are moving forward.
As for a new term you'll hear in the next month, get familiar with the word Quadrant. All games are broken up into four quadrants with Quadrant 1 equating to the toughest games and Quadrant 4 equating to the easiest games.
For example, Quadrant 1 means you either played a top-30 matchup at home, a top-50 game on a neutral court or a top-75 game on the road.
Here is Gonzaga's 'Team Sheet:'
Now, I know what you're thinking...why the heck does this all have to be so complicated and I'm with you! That's a topic for another day, but in the end the NCAA is trying to make sure that all wins and losses are not created equally, which makes sense in the grand scheme of things.
To another point, former Gonzaga assistant coach and current Boise State head coach Leon Rice talked about this new system earlier in the year and said he loves it.
"I think power five schools will be more willing to go play a good opponent on the road given the increased value...this should really help us get some great home games," Rice said.
Think about Gonzaga. Teams are afraid to come to the Kennel because in theory--and I hate calling GU a mid-major, but they are--there's nothing to gain. Now that the Zags will be an auto Quadrant 1 matchup in the Non-Conference schedule, many more opponents should be willing to schedule home-and-home's with them like North Carolina starting next season.
Of course there are teams within these Power-5 programs who believe their conference schedule is good enough to avoid playing tough Non-Con games, but in my opinion that's a risky proposition, but we can debate that another time.
They're a tough case. They have five Quadrant 1 wins. Out of the 16 teams announced today, only seven of them have more or the same type of wins.
From a RPI standpoint, or the 'what have you done for me' rankings, Gonzaga is sitting No. 40 in the country. That's not bad, but it's not elite either. The bigger concern is strength of schedule as Gonzaga is No. 152 in the country. Welcome to the WCC where BYU and Saint Mary's are the only move-the-needle type games.
As for KenPom, Sagarin and BPI aka the 'Let me tell you how good this team is in the future' metric, the analytics love Gonzaga as all three of them say this is a top-10 team.
What's the Verdict?
So let's go back to the original question:
Should the Zags be ticked off they got snubbed Sunday?
The answer is maybe. Probably, yes.
Plenty national writers were saying they don't agree with Oklahoma and believe Gonzaga or Rhode Island were worthy of that No. 4 spot.
In the end, the Bracket Matrix, which brings together dozens upon dozens of different bracketologists say Gonzaga is still most likely a No. 5 seed knocking on the door as a No. 4.
If the Zags are indeed a No. 5 seed right now, they will be a lock for a No. 4 and probably a No. 3 seed if the team can win out the rest of the way.
I know this news was a bit disheartening after the big win in Moraga, but if GU takes care of business, we'll probably see them in Boise to begin the NCAA tournament close to home.
MONDAY'S LOOK AT BRACKETS/IMPORTANCE OF NO. 4 SEED & HIGHER
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