Don’t Sleep on Mid-Major Teams

Credit - Jonathan Dyer

Credit – Jonathan Dyer

By Ryan Rocklin,

When discussing who’s going to win the NCAA Tournament, most people mention Duke, UCLA, and Kentucky, but a few mid-major teams are making noise heading into March. The five best mid-major teams are Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, Valparaiso, Wichita State, and Monmouth. These five teams have proven themselves this year and they continue to do so. Out of these five teams, my top pick to be a threat in March Madness is Gonzaga. I would have chosen Saint Mary’s before Thursday, but after losing to UT-Arlington by 14 points, the Gaels don’t look ready to compete in March.

The Bulldogs have looked incredible this season, ranked 8th with a 10-0 record. Junior transfer from Washington, Nigel Williams-Goss, has led the charge for Gonzaga and has become one of the best point guards in the nation. He is averaging a team-high 13.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists. Gonzaga is known as Transfer U. In the past, players like Kyle Wiltjer, Eric McClellan and Byron Wesley, came in and helped the team to succeed. This season, Jordan Mathews came over from California, Johnathan Williams came in from Missouri, Williams-Goss sat out last season after leaving Washington. Coach Few has brought in transfers and they have learned Gonzaga’s system seamlessly. Who wouldn’t want to join a winning team?

The Zags are always one of the best, if not the best mid-major team and this year is no different. Their high-powered offense is very tough to stop and their fantastic team play allows them to attack defenses in many ways. This team simply loves to share the ball. Przemek Karnowski, Josh Perkins, Zach Collins, Johnathan Williams, Jordan Matthews, Silas Melson, and Killian Tillie have all been valuable pieces to the team and Mark Few has done an excellent job assigning players’ roles and putting his team in a position to win each and every night.

The Bulldogs’ schedule isn’t as difficult as a team who competes in a power five conference, but they have defeated top teams, such as Arizona and Iowa State. They are scheduled to play Saint Mary’s twice this season. Once on January 14th and their second meeting will be February 11th. I believe the January 14th game will determine who is the best mid-major team in NCAA basketball and in my opinion, Gonzaga will be victorious.

Heading into March, The Zags will be an afterthought, even with their top ranking, because of the lack of talent they face on their schedule. But the past shows the Bulldogs will be no easy matchup in March and any team that has the challenge of playing them, will be in for a grueling and intense 40-minute game.

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