Saturday’s games marked the first which featured a truly brighter spotlight for the teams playing.
The Elite Eight, unlike the three rounds prior, only has one game played and televised at each interval. The entire college basketball world first focused its attention on San Jose, and then to Kansas City to see two teams advance to the Final Four.
Under a brighter light, flaws and successes stand out even brighter and show what can be expected as the tournament turns up the intensity. Here are five big things we saw.
1.) Gonzaga shouldn’t be satisfied with reaching the Final Four
For the first time in program history, Gonzaga is headed to the Final Four after beating 11 seed Xavier in the West Region final. For a school of Gonzaga’s size, with no football program and situated in the West Coast Conference, it is a huge achievement. No WCC team has played in the Final Four since Bill Russell was at San Francisco in 1957. Without a doubt, this is a milestone for the Gonzaga program.
But for this team, in this tournament, Gonzaga’s journey has no reason to stop now.
The Zags have been atop Ken Pomeroy’s rankings for the last two months, as they finished the regular season 29-1. Gonzaga features a top-15 offense in the country and the top-ranked defense in all the land.
With stars like Nigel Williams, Johnathan Williams, and Jordan Mathews, among a host of other scoring options, the Zags have so many ways to attack and win. Both of Mark Few’s centers, Zach Collins and Przemek Karnowski, battled foul trouble Saturday, but Gonzaga went smaller and found success in transition.
These Bulldogs are a cut above the Gonzaga teams of the past and capable of winning it all.
2.) Mid-majors crash the party again