Gonzaga, Why Do I Love Thee?

Paul SwaneySenior Analyst IMarch 25, 2009

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 19:  Austin Daye #5 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs plays defense against the Akron Zips in the second half during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Rose Garden on March 19, 2009 in Portland, Oregon. The Bulldogs defeated the Zips 77-64.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

The question that I continue to hear asked on sports talk radio is, "Who is the favorite to win the tournament?" Over and over I hear the same response: North Carolina.

So why do I continue to think that Gonzaga will win its Sweet 16 match-up on Friday against the Heels?

Four Reasons to Believe in Gonzaga

1. Only one loss in 2009: Granted they were killed by Memphis in Spokane, but 20-1 in the New Year is nothing to sneeze at.

2. Scoring Options: Bench depth is over-rated, what's more important is depth at scoring the basketball. Five players have scored at least 22 points in a game this year, and with Demetri Goodson coming off the confidence-building last second winner against Western Kentucky, and Micah Downs providing consistent floor play and shooting, there isn't one guy to focus on shutting down.

3. Mark Few is easy to root for: Even though Few has been rumored to be the top man for the Arizona job, I really respect that Few has chosen to stay at Gonzaga despite his tremendous success (264-65 going into Friday's match-up). His program has been the standard by which all other mid-majors are judged, and I hope that continued success in this tournament will encourage him to stay put.

4. I'm stubborn: I picked Gonzaga as a Final For team back in November and I would feel good about myself if I was right.

Three Reasons to Doubt Gonzaga

1. Austin Daye is Frustrating: Daye's whining and occasional defensive apathy are really frustrating to watch. For that matter, Matt Bouldin and Josh Heytvelt don't look like they're exactly tearing it up. On the other hand, maybe they are just so good that it only looks easy.

2. Gonzaga has let us Down Before: Given all of the success the Zags have experienced in the tournament, you have to begin to ask, why haven't they made it further?

3. It is North Carolina: 17 Final Fours and four National Championships mean something.

To close, I must mention what anyone who writes about this game is obligated to mention: Ty Lawson's toe hurts.

Prediction: Gonzaga 85, UNC 82