It’s time. Gonzaga has been a mid-major powerhouse in men’s college basketball for over 30 years when Hall of Fame point guard John Stockon led the team in the early 1980s. However, the Zags seemed to never been able to dominate as much on the biggest stage in the NCAA tournament. This season marked the first year that the team that consistently broke America’s brackets finally reached the Final Four.
They did it by beating two other tournament Cinderellas in Northwestern and most recently the University of South Carolina. They did it with big threes down the stretch from redshirt junior guard Nigel Williams-Goss. They did it with a 7-foot freshman coming off the bench like Zach Collins, who erupted with 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks in the semifinal. They did it with the AP Coach of the Year Mark Few.
Now they face UNC-Chapel Hill. The high-major powerhouse from without a doubt the best conference historically in men’s college basketball. This is the Tarheels 20th Final Four appearance in program’s history and the team has all the motivation needed to win tonight after losing at the buzzer against Villanova in last year’s championship game.
Despite the fact UNC lost against NIT runner-up Georgia Tech in the regular season and squeezed out of multiple games in this tournament, particularly the controversial win over Arkansas, Gonzaga has been the most disrespected team all season long. After remaining undefeated the longest and being ranked No. 1 nationally with a regular season record of 29-1, critics were still skeptical at the strength of Gonzaga’s schedule.
Even in this tournament, North Carolina played higher seeds than Gonzaga has seen. However, in the same week the women’s basketball powerhouse UCONN fell from grace, the madness of March shall continue to prevail in the men’s category with a Gonzaga victory. Because every single time they were doubted this season, they proved the country wrong.