Are the Gonzaga Bulldogs Underrated?

Al ChadwickContributor IJanuary 20, 2009

The question of the day: Are the Zags underrated?

Gonzaga moved up to 23 in the AP poll this week and were not ranked in the Coaches' poll. So, what does this mean?

The Zags started the season showing signs that they were the number one team in the West. They defeated Oklahoma State, Maryland, and Tennessee in the Old Spice Classic. They defeated Washington State, a fierce, yet struggling, rival. They moved up to number four in both polls.

So what happened?

Gonzaga first lost to Arizona. While the Wildcats aren’t the Pac-10 powerhouse they once were, it was still a respectable loss to a good team at the time.

The Zags then posted another respectable loss in overtime to then No. 2 ranked Connecticut. Two respectable losses moved the Zags down to seven in the rankings.

Move on to Portland State. While this loss proves problematic for the Zags, you have to give Portland credit. They will likely win the Big Sky Conference. Not a loss the Zags should have on the books, but to a decent team. Ranking now at 17.

End the most recent loss with Utah. Not a good one. Utah was only 7-5 for the season, including a loss to a Division II school. The Bulldogs then drop out of the top 25 rankings.

So what does this mean for the Zags? Have they stated to the nation that they have no chance of getting past the first or second round in the NCAA tournament? Is this the end for the team that had many thinking they were destined for greatness this year?

Many say no, many say yes.

The Zags have since rebounded and posted impressive wins in the past four games. They defeated Tennessee at home, snapping the Vols' 37-game home win streak. They crushed their first three conference opponents by an average of 31 points.Β  These wins place the Zags at number 23 in the AP poll this week.

Gonzaga may no longer be a mid-major team, yet is part of what some consider a mid-major conference. Still, posting such sizeable wins against any team proves something. Posting non-conference wins against teams such as Oklahoma State, Maryland, and Tennessee, with only one loss in seven straight away games in a month, proves something.

This something is that the Zags prove to have greatness, not just potential. It is the only team in the WCC that plays such a tough non-conference schedule and is willing to play any team, any place, any time.

The team has talent, chemistry, and tenacity. They have a coach who has taken the team to nine straight NCAA tournaments in his nine years as head coach. They have won against great teams in recent past, such as UNC, Connecticut, and Tennessee.

Yet, some feel they will do no better than the first or second round in the NCAA tournament. Others feel this team will do better, despite their key losses, and are very much an underrated team.

You decide...and the Zags will prove...


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