Repeating History: Can Gonzaga Climb to the Top?


As Gonzaga continues to climb in the national polls, comparisons of this team are being made to the 2012-13 Gonzaga team that rose to number one for the first time in program history. But are these comparisons legitimate?

Right now, the Zags are ranked third in the country with a 16-1 record. At this time two years ago, the Bulldogs were ranked ninth nationally at 16-1. That Gonzaga team swept through the WCC, and this team has a good chance too as well.

Before this team can even consider landing the top spot in the polls, several things need to line up perfectly for the Zags.


To start with, they need to focus on what they can control, which is how they finish the regular season. In other words, they need to keep winning. With roads wins against BYU, San Diego and Portland already under their belt, the Zags have gotten through the toughest road stretch of their conference schedule.

Six conference road games remain for the Bulldogs. Road dates with Santa Clara, San Francisco and Saint Mary’s are the best chances for an opponent to knock off the Zags.

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In two of their three meetings last year, last-minute shots by Sam Dower and David Stockton were needed to push Gonzaga to victories over Santa Clara. Even though Gonzaga handled the Broncos in a 79-57 home victory, expect Kerry Keating to instill confidence in his team.

War Memorial Gymnasium has always been a tough place to play. In fact, the Zags lost three straight at San Francisco from 2010 to 2012, before beating the Dons in 2013 and 2014. San Francisco’s 88-57 road loss against the Zags will motivate the Dons to defend their home court.

Even though the Saint Mary’s-Gonzaga rivalry has lost a little of its flair the past couple of seasons, it still is a rivalry. That means all stats should be thrown out the window. Both teams do not like each other, so expect an added level of physicality when they travel down to Moraga to battle the Gaels later in February.


When Gonzaga was battling for a top spot in the polls in 2013, upsets in the top ten were regular. At this point, it does not seem like it will be that easy. While the Zags benefited from upsets of Louisville, Wisconsin and Duke last week, two schools remain in front of them: Virginia and Kentucky.

Before the season even started, media pundits and fans alike thought Kentucky had a good chance of going 40-0. Recently, however, the Wildcats needed overtime to get victories over their opponents. While the Wildcats are an elite team that have a good chance of winning a national championship this year, they look vulnerable right now. One slip-up in the SEC from the Wildcats could help the Zags get closer to the top.

Virginia is the only other team standing in Gonzaga’s way. The Cavaliers are currently undefeated and have two victories against Top 25 teams already. However, they have yet to hit the hardest part of their schedule. Since they are in the ACC, they have four more Top 25 match-ups this season, with games against Duke, North Carolina and Louisville. There is a good chance Virginia will drop at least one of these games.


As it stands right now, Gonzaga has a decent chance of getting the top spot. Kentucky and Virginia are the biggest hurdles for Gonzaga right now. If the Zags remain focused and win out, they will have the best chance to get the top spot. At that point, Zag fans can only hope Kentucky and Virginia get losses.

To put that in perspective, the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers were the last team to have an undefeated season at 32-0. Only seven other teams have had perfect seasons in the tournament era. If I am a Zag fan, I like my chances.