A deep NCAA Tournament run this past March ended just short of a title for Gonzaga, and the Bulldogs are once again among the favorites on the NCAA basketball futures odds.
Few teams in any sport on any level have enjoyed the success over a 20+-year span like the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Mark Few’s squads have won five consecutive regular season and West Coast Conference tournament titles, can claim 10-15 or more crowns in the same two categories prior to that, and enter the 2017-18 season searching for their 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
This past March, it looked as if the Bulldogs would grab the penultimate reward with a National Championship, only to fall six points short in the title game against North Carolina. A big chunk of the talent that pushed Gonzaga that far has departed, and expectations are much lower this season. Still, the ‘Zags enter the season No. 19 in the early coaches poll, and fetching a 25/1 return on the NCAA basketball futures, placing the Bulldogs in the third tier of teams on that list.
True Freshman Kispert Could Be Gonzaga’s Key To Making Tournament Run
Four names we won’t see on the floor this year are Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Collins, Przemek Karnowski and Jordan Mathews. Combined, that quartet contributed more than 40 points per game, 22 rebounds and roughly 60% of the assists dished out. Replacing that production won’t be easy, but while Few doesn’t attract the level of recruits that Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari do, the Bulldogs have some high-caliber players capable of filling those four pair of sneakers.
Johnathan Williams and Josh Perkins are back to lead the team; Williams was the 4th-leading scorer a year ago and topped Gonzaga with 6.4 rebounds per game, while Perkins was second on the team in assists and will direct the backcourt. Killian Tillie, a 6-10 sophomore from France, should plug the middle to help Williams on the glass, while redshirt freshman Zach Norvell and true frosh Corey Kispert help out in the backcourt and on the wings. How quickly those three pick up their games will determine just how big of spreads the Bulldogs are laden with on college basketball odds boards.
Will Saint Mary’s Unseat ‘Zags As West Coast Champs?
Sitting three slots behind Gonzaga in the preseason coaches poll at No. 22 is Saint Mary’s. The Gaels have the best player in the WCC, 6-11 Aussie Jock Landale, who averaged almost 17 points and more than nine boards a game in his sophomore season. Many preseason predictions have Landale leading SMC to the West Coast title to end Gonzaga’s current run. It’s one of my favorite rivalries to watch, and I’ve already circled their two regular-season meetings on my calendar (Jan 18 in Spokane, Feb 10 in Moraga).
Early season tests for the Bulldogs include a matchup with Ohio State in Portland during the Thanksgiving weekend. Gonzaga will also take on Creighton at home a week later, plus face Villanova in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 5. You can count on those games and others being part of the free NCAA basketball picks lineup here at SBR.