It's Tough at the Top: Jags Almost Stun Zags
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If you have Gonzaga going to the Final Four, you may want to rethink that pick after their cliffhanger against Southern University.
We hear the mantra every year around this time that a Number 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament will never beat a Nunber 1 seed. Well, Thu 21 Mar in the opening round, we came very close to that myth to becoming a reality. Southern literally -- and I mean literally -- took the Zags to the wire before they pulled away by six, 64-58, in the closing seconds.
If it wasn't for a three-point shot, a couple no-calls on fouls, and two free throws, we'd be discussing how the NCAA Tournament Committee screwed up by making the Bulldogs a Number 1 seed; looking back on it now, it looks like a bad choice. Gonzaga proved Thursday they might be as shaky as some skeptics have claimed. Southern's team was smaller and out-manned, yet they went toe-to-toe with the pollsters' top-ranked team and opened a great many startled eyes.
For one, the nation discovered that they play pretty good ball in the SWAC. Southern didn't need a 7-footer to compete; they just made do with a couple of hot point guards to pop a few treys to keep them in the hunt.
Gonzaga either wasn't ready or didn't take the Jags seriously and it almost cost them infamously. The Bulldogs for years have been regarded as the red-headed step-child playing the underdog's role, and then the one year they enter the Dance as the top seed, they almost blew it for every mid-major out there.
But how cool would it have been to see an upset of this proportion take place? It would have been way bigger than Robert Morris dismissing Kentucky from the NIT. This would have been an historic occasion on a level heretofore unseen.
Yet again, the lesson to be learned by all the top seeds out there is one their coaches always warn about but their players seldom heed: If you don't come to play, no matter the opponent, you will go home.
This is one dance where there is no respect. Absolutely none.
And the Bulldogs almost learned that lesson the hard way.