Sunday afternoon, the Gonzaga Bulldogs were rewarded for their tough non-conference schedule and perfect league performance by being named the number one seed in the West Region for the NCAA Tournament. The Zags will open the tourney against Southern University this Thursday (March 21st) in Salt Lake City. Scheduled tip time for the game will be announced later Sunday, or Monday morning.
It was a history-making Selection Sunday for the Bulldogs as they are the first team not from a so-called "power conference" to be named a top seed. The team and hundreds of their fans crowded together in Gonzaga's "Kennel" to watch CBS' Jim Nantz make the big announcement. The place erupted in cheers when the Bulldogs were placed in the top line out West.
Winning 31 out of 33 regular season games would not have been enough to garner Gonzaga this honor if it hadn't been for the school's stubborn insistence on a strong non-conference schedule. While the Dogs haven't played any teams that are seeded numbers one or two, they competed in eight games against teams in the tournament. Gonzaga won seven of those games, losing a game against Butler that went down to the last shot. Illinois handed the Zags their only other loss, a somewhat shocking 11 point defeat in Spokane.
The Jaguars of Southern University, 23-9 and second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, will have their hands full with the speedy Bulldogs. Gonzaga head man Mark Few knows better, though, than to take anyone lightly. His Bulldogs have been on the other side of that equation, only to defeat the higher-seeded team. He'll have his charges ready on Thursday.