Washington-Gonzaga: To Be Or Not To Be a Rivalry (Part III)

UW Dawgfan HuskiesCorrespondent IJuly 8, 2010

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 21:  The Gonzaga Bulldogs tip the ball off against the Syracuse Orange during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at HSBC Arena at HSBC Arena on March 21, 2010 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
Michael Heiman/Getty Images

Does Gonzaga schedule enough "big" opponents to minimize the hits they take for playing a soft schedule in the West Coast Conference?

Yes in fact, they do !

The short answer is Gonzaga plays top 70 opponents rather frequently and sometimes in back-to-back games. This particular aspect of their scheduling has earned the Bulldogs great respect from major conferences.

For example, during the 2007 season Gonzaga played a stretch of games that included Georgia, Duke, Nevada and Virginia in consecutive games. Those teams all were ranked in the top 70 and were tournament bound.

Although Gonzaga lost those games this stretch was arguably as tough or tougher than any stretch played in the Pac-10.

In the previous parts to this analysis of this "rivalry" we looked at the numbers and statistics behind the comparison. The numbers show that Gonzaga's weak conference schedule can not be overcome by strong non-conference scheduling. The one caveat is if they managed to schedule top 25 teams for nearly every one of their non-conference games.

Does that mean Gonzaga needs the series more than Washington?  

No, a game with Washington does not rectify the problems of the weak conference, but it can't hurt. 

A game between these two teams could be mutually beneficial— despite the deficiencies in Gonzaga's schedule and SOS rankings, the Bulldogs are a tournament team with a great track record.

Coupled with a big time regional rivalry game atmosphere and you have a winning combination.

The excitement alone would benefit both teams in terms of regional exposure and recruiting. Playing this series would be good for each team, the fans, and basketball in the state of Washington and it should be played at a neutral site each and every year.