Gonzaga is the West Coast’s only shot at a national champion

Gonzaga advances to play Florida State in Anaheim.

Four teams from the West Coast in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. At least two will make it to the second weekend. Gonzaga is the Western time zone’s best opportunity for a champion. Take offense UC Irvine, Oregon, or Washington.

It became apparent the West’s most decorated conference didn’t have what it takes at the end of the non-conference season. Here in March, the point remains true (Though foolishly, I counted Nevada in one of the best coast’s elite).

The West Coast title drought dates back to 1997. But Saturday night’s 83-71 commanding victory against Baylor cemented the Bulldogs’ as the only program to appear in the last five Sweet 16’s. The Zags aren’t a cute underdog anymore; it’s a bona fide college basketball power.

Rui Hachimura didn’t need to be dominant. The Wooden Player of the Year nominee posted 6 points. Killian Tillie only provided two off the bench. No matter. Junior forward Brandon Clarke set a program record for scoring in the Tournament with 36 points. He bested Adam Morrison’s 35-piece against Xavier in 2006. Oh and he blocked 5 shots.

Even an attempted lob to Clarke by Geno Crandall fell into the cup. Corey Kispert popped off for 16 on 4-of-6 shooting from three. Baylor’s zone was no match.

After Gonzaga demolished No. 16 seed Northeastern, Huskies head coach Greg Herenda said the Bulldogs have the potential to win a national championship. An East Coast coach called the team with all of the West’s hopes.

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