Gonzaga is Number One. The best team in college basketball as judged by two different weekly polls of writers and coaches. Better than Kansas, better than Duke, better than UCLA, Michigan, Georgetown and everybody else. It is a first for the always–strong team from the perennially weak West Coast Conference.
“It is an amazing accomplishment that they are #1,” said Dave Grosby, known on the Seattle sports-talk airwaves as “The Groz.” He says it’s never a surprise that The Zags are in the mix, near the top of the sport at this time of year, given the strong program coach Mark Few has developed. But being named as top Bulldog by the writers and coaches is a different deal.
“Can you believe it? Can anybody really believe it?” he said, beaming at the beauty of an 8,000 student-body Jesuit school topping heavy hitters of the Big Ten, Pac12 and more. “It is kind of why I love college basketball. It’s the place where things like this still do happen.”
A the outdoor hoops court at Green Lake, regular shooter Robert Swift struggles when asked to name the number one team. He guesses Miami, Indiana, Michigan, some other traditional powerhouses, then erupts with glee when told it’s the Zags at the top.
“Gonzaga! Damn! That’s who I was missing! And them boys have been playing, haven’t they!” said Swift.
It’s a good thing for the whole state, he says, but warns fans not to get too far ahead of themselves as college basketball grinds towards “March Madness,” the NCAA post-season tournament with its “lose-and-go-home” format.
“The number one ranked team ain’t always number one” he cautioned. “Anybody can make a run. It could be the number five team that really should be number one.”
Back at 710 ESPN sports radio studios, The Groz offers the same gentle warning.
“For a couple of days, it’s time to bask in the glow of an unbelievable achievement. They have absolutely earned it and deserve it. But, you know, it’s March now. And there’s something else they have to earn,” said Grosby.