College Basketball Preseason Top 25: #20 Gonzaga


20. Gonzaga Bulldogs

2013 was a magical regular season in Spokane, as the Zags won 31 games and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. As for the postseason? Well once again, that left something to be desired. Gonzaga was flat-out beaten by a gritty Wichita State team, and despite being heavy favorites to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009, the Bulldogs fell again. Now, they’ll have to pick up the pieces without first-round NBA pick Kelly Olynyk and 6-8 forward Elias Harris. There’s still talent here–point guard Kevin Pangos and shooting guard Gary Bell Jr. have the potential to make up one of the best backcourts in the country. But an unproven front court in 7-foot sophomore Przemek Karnowski (5.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg) and Sam Dower (6.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg) will be counted on to replace Olynyk and Harris’ production. That’s not going to be easy.

The Zags don’t have a ton of size, as just five players are listed as 6-7 or taller. The backcourt is especially small, as 6-2 Kevin Pangos, 6-1 Gary Bell and 5-11 David Stockton will get the bulk of the minutes. Providence transfer Gerard Coleman (13.2 ppg, 5 rpg) will be counted on to step up and provide some offense.

BOTTOM LINE: This isn’t the same Gonzaga team that had players and fans alike talking Final Four last year. But the cupboard isn’t completely bare, either. It may take a while for these Zags to come together, but by conference play the chemistry–and the prodigious winning–should be back. Expect another WCC championship and a top-five NCAA seed. And maybe, just maybe, a deeper run into the NCAA Tournament come March.

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