2013 NCAA tournament No. 1 seed: Gonzaga Bulldogs

by | College Basketball Insider

Coach: Mark Few | NCAA tournament record: 14-13

Best finish: Elite Eight (1999)

Assistants: Tommy Lloyd, Ray Giacoletti, Donnie Daniels

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Starting lineup:
G: Kevin Pangos
G: Gary Bell Jr.
F: Mike Hart
F: Elias Harris
C: Kelly Olynyk

Top reserve: Sam Dower

Leading scorer: Kelly Olynyk (17.5)

Leading rebounder: Elias Harris (7.4)

National championships: None | Last Final Four: None

Why Gonzaga might win it all: This Zags team just isn't like the others. It has balance, no shortage of size and a backcourt that has logged tons of minutes its first two seasons. Up front, Mark Few has Olynyk -- one of the top big men in the country and a legit NBA first-rounder, possibly a lottery pick. The big Canadian joins Elias Harris, a senior forward who has steadily progressed the past couple of seasons, in the frontcourt. The guard tandem of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. has taken a back seat to the big men this season after playing more of a starring role in 2011-12. This is also Few's best defensive team -- much of that is credited to Bell and former walk-on Mike Hart.

Why Gonzaga might not win it all: The Zags have never been there, done that before. The program has done incredible things, including its first No. 1 national ranking. However, Gonzaga never has been to a Final Four. While the Bulldogs play a relentless nonconference slate, they also play in the WCC -- a solid league, but did not have another high-powered team to test Few and Co. this season. A third worry is the lack of a big, athletic wing who would be able to score and also defend athletic players.

Player to watch -- Kevin Pangos: Olynyk is the team's most productive and best player, but Pangos is the key. His numbers are down, but he's deferring, getting the ball more to his big men. He remains capable of going for 20 points or more any game, and that -- added to his versatility and ability to run the club -- is what makes him so important and dangerous.

One guy soaring -- Olynyk: He has been doing it all season, against WCC and nonconference opponents. He had 20 points in only 19 minutes in a win against Kansas State and finished with 21 points and nine rebounds in a victory against Oklahoma State at Stillwater. He didn't want to redshirt a year ago, but it has obviously worked out well for him as he has made a huge jump from a sophomore season in which he averaged less than six points.

One guy slumping -- Pagnos: In the past couple of months, Pangos is just not making shots at the rate he was earlier. In fact, he's shooting only 41 percent over the past 11 games -- and hasn't been nearly as effective with his long-range shot.

Notable stats: Gonzaga has never been an NCAA tourney No. 1 seed. The Zags were a No. 2 seed back in 2004 and lost to Nevada in the second round. ... Also, the Bulldogs have gone dancing 15 consecutive seasons.

Final thought: I'm not sure the Zags will make their first-ever Final Four, but this team is certainly capable -- especially in this season's college basketball landscape. They have a difference-maker up front in Olynyk, they have guards and plenty of depth up front with Sam Dower and 7-foot-1, 300-pound freshman Przemek Karnowski. Both come off the bench and would start for most programs. These guys even defend. Questions remain, but this team is built differently than Gonzaga teams in the past -- and it wouldn't surprise me to see the Zags in Atlanta.


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