Gonzaga Bulldogs: The Most Dominant College Basketball Team Of All Time?
By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist
First things first when it comes to the Gonzaga Bulldogs and what they’ve accomplished this season. This is a team that has shown the ability to make victory upon victory look inevitable, feel inevitable and simply become inevitable.
They also have all the statistics to back it up, all the clinical and implausible ones, singularly and collectively painting a picture of a team that has been, without question, far too good for every opponent it has matched up against.
Then there is the eye test, the way Mark Few’s group has looked in going about its business, the way you watch it and just know that a basket is coming, that a run is coming, that the defense will pull through, that any one of the stars or co-stars will claim this moment as his own.
There are no questions about right now and not many about what most think comes soon. Heading into the Final Four matchup against 11-seed UCLA on Saturday, the discussion about the outcome doesn’t have many "what ifs" attached to it.
This column isn’t in the game of making direct predictions, but let’s just say this: Everyone who doesn’t bleed Bruin blue (and probably many of those that do) thinks Gonzaga is going to advance to the national championship game.
The Bulldogs are spotting UCLA 14.5 points, per FOX Bet, with the straight-up line putting them at -1600. They’re the heavy favorites to win the whole thing, priced at -200, with only Baylor, the second-best team all year, given a serious shot (+260) of toppling them. Baylor meets Houston in the other semifinal.
Any questioning relates not to the present but to this Gonzaga team’s position alongside those of the past that have also gotten close to perfection. Getting to the point of it: if this squad completes the job by winning two more games, will it enter the eternal annals of college hoops as the most dominant team in history?
"The conversation is starting," FOX Sports College Basketball Analyst Mark Titus said on the Titus & Tate Podcast. "Finally America is ready to have the conversation of Gonzaga as a GOAT-tier team. Are they the greatest team we have ever seen?
"They are better than everybody at everything. They don’t win because of one thing, like 3-point shooting or whatever. It is insane."
Those stats, the ones alluded to at the top? Trust me, you’ll be wanting the abridged version, so numbingly comprehensive are they, so many lines and variations of one-sidedness that the full list reads like code. To counteract that, let’s intersperse the accolades with a few other tidbits.
Gonzaga is just the sixth team to win its first four tournament games by 15 or more since the expansion to at least 64 teams came 36 years ago. The margins to date: 43, 16, 18, 19. It has actually been easier than it looks on paper, much easier.
Bursts come from freshman point guard Jalen Suggs or senior wing Corey Kispert or junior guard Joel Ayayi or the marvelously mustached Drew Timme or supporting guys you wouldn’t necessarily have tabbed as most likely to light it up.
They’re trying to become only the second champion in 45 years to spend the entire season ranked No. 1 by the AP. They’re bidding to become the first undefeated champ since 1976.
They’re doing all this as a mid-major, not a blue blood … kind of. In truth, they are a national force playing in a mid-major conference, and this commitment to excellence has lasted a long time now. Long enough for five straight 30-win seasons, but even then, none of those seasons have been like this. This is rare air. On the way to 30-0, there have been 27 consecutive double-digit wins and 29 total.
"They are in every way a true national powerhouse," FOX Sports bracket forecaster Mike DeCourcy told me. "They recruit like it, they play like it, they have the infrastructure around it. They have the intention of staying like it, and this year they have a really special team."
Gonzaga this year is the best of both worlds, a team jammed with first-round talents who combine to play like underdog battlers yet with utter belief in owning their status.
Suggs is heading to the lottery when the NBA Draft comes around, and Kispert could also get himself into such lofty consideration. Ayayi is projected to be a second-rounder. Big man Filip Petrusev, who left last year to turn pro in his native Serbia, is also predicted to be drafted. Timme, with a big Final Four, could work his way into the mix.
That’s for later. Currently, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are having a blast, enjoying the smaller triumphs on the way to what they hope will be one giant one.
"We're wise enough to know these are really, really special times," Few told reporters. "These are great accomplishments, and they need to be celebrated – really seizing the moment. Don't misconstrue that for a lack of desire to keep this thing rolling."
This isn’t designed to be a promo or to come across as a preemptive tribute before the most vital weekend of the college hoops season is complete.
It is merely an acknowledgment of a team that has earned a different kind of recognition and a new sort of consideration. It is one that accepts how time plays tricks on our nostalgic senses. If Gonzaga has two more wins left in the tank, it will be hard to find a predecessor who did things with more bulldozing dominance.
They’ve pushed themselves into that level of standing, and even now, they’ve achieved historic success and clinched a place among the greats – until proven otherwise. They’re heading for historic heights, unless UCLA, Baylor or Houston has something remarkable to say about it.
In the interests of balance and, more importantly, to cover my backside in case it unexpectedly falls into a heap Saturday or Monday, it is necessary to point out Gonzaga’s flaws and frailties, and the spots where they are prone to misstep.
To note all the ways where Suggs is shaky, where Kispert has a blind spot, where Few’s tactics are patchy and where, as a group, they can be outplayed.
Got any ideas?
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the Fox Sports Insider Newsletter. You can subscribe to the daily newsletter here.