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March Madness Picks 2017: Gonzaga Bulldogs Preview

The Gonzaga Bulldogs (27-0) remained in the top spot this week in the national poll as they extended their winning streak to now 27. They are still undefeated and at the top of the NCAA, but the real question is if they can sustain this level of play. Do they deserve to cut down the nets in Phoenix? So far, they’re the favorites.

These past few weeks have been filled with upsets across the board, and all of the league’s consistency seems to reside within the Bulldogs. Baylor fell to Kansas State and Kansas, and Kentucky was blown out by 22 points to Florida, shaking up the rankings. Six of the Top 10 teams lost at least one game.

Gonzaga is now the only remaining unbeaten team in Division I basketball and compiled 60 of the first-place votes. This is a talented bunch led by head coach Mark Few, who is still trying to take the Bulldogs to their first Final Four.

So far in their previous slate of games, Gonzaga has beaten three teams in the NCAA RPI Top 19, as well as another three in the Top 40. The Bulldogs possess an older starting lineup with two seniors and two juniors. Junior guard Nigel Williams-Goss has continued to be the real deal after returning from a sprained ankle against BYU.

Williams-Goss is currently the team’s leading scorer and their most important asset. Elite teams in March need an x-factor, and that is Williams-Goss, who put up 33 points against BYU. The Bulldogs also have four players averaging double figures, with junior forward Johnathan Williams not far behind adding 9.8 a game.

Gonzaga's Nigel Williams-Goss

Getty Images/Alex Goodlett

Obviously, an easy criticism for Gonzaga is that they don’t play in the toughest of conferences. Agreed, the West Coast Conference is not very good, but the Bulldogs have been absolutely dominant. Gonzaga can’t control the teams that they play in their conference, so they just need to keep winning to silence the haters.

When I say dominate their conference, I mean it.

One thing that sticks out: Gonzaga has won their last 19 games straight games by double digits, and this run features a large portion of conference games. With veteran leadership felt throughout the roster and the other top 10 teams struggling to maintain their spots, why entirely count the Bulldogs out?

Their non-conference schedule wasn’t too shabby. The Bulldogs have already beat Arizona and Iowa State, who are no jokes. They also defeated Florida (who just smacked Kentucky as I mentioned earlier) and Tennessee.

Believe me, I’m not saying Gonzaga going is going to win it all. I am saying to keep a close eye on this team. This year seems to be a toss-up with March Madness right on the horizon, and teams rolling on win streaks tend to carry momentum into the tournament.

There are plenty of strong teams in the NCAA’s Top 25 that have the capability to make deep runs in March. Villanova is still right in the mix, and it would be dumb to sleep on teams like Kansas, Baylor, UCLA, North Carolina, Kentucky, and even Duke to name a few. Right now, there has been one team to count on throughout the season: the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

So the final question, is Gonzaga a title contender? I say yes, but only if this team stays healthy, continues playing the way they are, and avoids an early upset in the tournament, which is a possibility. These are all big ifs, but don’t rule out the top team in the country.

Cristian ScovellCOED Writer
When I'm not writing about sports, I'm usually complaining about the Jets. Born and raised in New Jersey, and I'm currently a junior at Hofstra University, where you can hear me as a color analyst on WRHU.
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