36 reasons Gonzaga can win it all

28 March, 2017, 00:54 | Author: Felix Jensen

The storm is coming.

It was the kind of moment that sends "this just isn't our day" running through the minds of an entire team. Remember, it was just two weeks ago that the Musketeers needed to beat DePaul to feel good about their chances of making the NCAA tournament. Bluiett is cementing his legacy as one of the greatest to ever do it in a Xavier uniform.

How's this for an NCAA tournament? And Chris Mack is passing up his predecessors on the list of names for best coach in Xavier history. They also improved to 3-1 against Kentucky in regional finals - the only place these college basketball behemoths have met in the NCAA Tournament.

Frank Martin took the job in 2012 and made incremental progress, and this year's team was a good story.

Sean O'Mara and RaShid Gaston are Xavier's only "bigs", and they simply were overmatched against Gonzaga's frontcourt. Let's not minimize one iota the accomplishment of the Zags in this particular year. "The Ducks" of OR are in the Final Four for the first time since 1939, when they won the first NCAA national championship tournament. However, he was competing in a different era at a completely different level, so it makes it hard to compare his time at the helm to Xavier's modern era of success.

All three schools' coaches can finally drop the dubious "never been to a Final Four" title, too. Neither did 2-seeds Duke and Louisville. Defensively, Gonzaga is giving up 60.9 points per game against the opposing teams. That is one of the many connections between the two border states. Justin Jackson led the team with 19 points on 7 of 17 shooting with 5 rebounds and a team-high 4 assists. All Thornwell did in his first four NCAA games was score 103 points and take his team flying over the finish line with a brilliant stretch run. This game could go either way so I'll take my chances with OR and the points. They lost every time. He pulled down 13 rebounds against Kansas, and seven of them came on the offensive end of the court.

The game-winning play to O'Mara was a ideal example of that.

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Midwest Region: No. 1 seed Kansas vs. At certain points this season, I've thought both Gonzaga and North Carolina looked like the nation's best team.

"And we would say Rui is going to be a centerpiece for our future".

NWG is one of the best point guards in the country because he is basically unfazed by pressure. The way the bracket shapes up, two of them could meet in the championship game a week from Monday. OR reached the Elite Eight a season ago, and weren't going to be satisfied by simply making it back. Mack already has them in most other categories. Now they're two wins away from their first championship since the 1930s. He's been at Xavier for eight years now, three years longer than Miller was there and five years longer than Matta. He typically wins those battles, which separates him from most leading scorers.

OR could have been intimidated by a red-hot Kansas team that had won its two previous NCAA tournament games in overpowering fashion. His postseason play can only be helping his stock as a professional prospect. Except this piece of nylon was more like a season extension.

Nigel Williams-Goss is the Bulldogs' go-to scorer, and he leads the team with 16.7 points per game and is shooting 49.0 percent from the field. He had help from Malcolm Barnard who scored 15 points and JP Macura with 14. Both contests happened in the Elite Eight, and both losses were to Atlantic Coast Conference teams.

Big-time programs will come calling for him, whether it's IN or somewhere else.

- Does defense really win championships?


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