The second-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs, the small Jesuit school in the Pacific Northwest that won four games in head coach Mark Few’s first year 14 years ago, rested their case for a No. 1 seed in the tournament and No. 1 ranking in next week’s college basketball rankings with an exclamation mark, closing out an undefeated West Coast Conference (WCC) season by defeating Portland at home 81-52 on Saturday.
There was no letdown for Gonzaga after Thursday’s physical 90-85 win at BYU in a game that came down to the wire. Since top-ranked Indiana, third-ranked Duke, and fourth-ranked Michigan all lost this week, Gonzaga is on the verge of becoming the top-ranked team in the country for the first time in school history. The Bulldogs (29-2, 16-0) won the WCC regular season title and have a chance to be the first WCC team to be No. 1 in the country since San Francisco in 1977 when Bill Cartwright was the team’s center. Gonzaga also most likely controls its own destiny for a top seed in the NCAA tournament if they can win the conference tournament.
“It’s never happened here before; it would be an honor,” Few said. “At the end of the day it would be pretty cool for Gonzaga to be No. 1. My first year here we won four Division I games.”
Kelly Olynyk scored 15 points and Elias Harris scored 20 points as the tandem led the Bulldogs yet again.
In the closing minutes of the game, the crowd, according to USA Today, started chanting “We’re No. 1!”
They’ll find out on Monday, when the new rankings are released.