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No. 1 Gonzaga Shocked by No. 9 Wichita State

Mar 23, 2013, 11:16 PM EDT

Kelly Olynyk Gonzaga AP

The last time Gonzaga had lost, we were only three weeks into 2013. That is no more.

No. 9-seeded Wichita State climbed back from an eight-point second half deficit to upset No. 1-seeded Gonzaga, 76-70, knocking off the first No. 1 seed of the tournament and advancing to the Sweet 16 in the process at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday night.

Wichita State used 50 shooting from the field, including 14-of-26 shooting from three-point range to erase that deficit and take the lead, 64-63, with 3:10 to play. That was made possible by three-pointers on back-to-back-to-back possessions over a three-minute span that ignited the Shockers’ offense.

Among those three-point shooters were Ron Baker and Cleanthony Early, both of whom were 4-of-6 from three-point range on the night. That impressive shooting night comes after shooting 2-of-20 as a team in the Round of 64 against Pittsburgh.

Gonzaga could not survive the upset despite grabbing 20 offensive rebounds on the night. Wichita State did a fine job of bothering big man and National Player of the Year candidate Kelly Olynyk, who needed 22 shots to score 26 points on the night. They also concentrated the offensive production in the hands of three players: Olynyk, Kevin Pangos, and Elias Harris. Those three combined for 81 percent of the team’s scoring.

Gonzaga becomes the third No. 1 seed in the past four years to lose in the Round of 32 and the first No. 1 seed to be eliminated from this 2013 NCAA tournament. And that comes after perhaps the shakiest performance by a No. 1 seed in the Round of 64, when No. 16-seed Southern ran the Bulldogs to the wire Thursday evening.

Lapses on the perimeter hurt Gonzaga and three-point shooting like it endured Saturday is not easily reconciled, even when rebounding on the offensive boards at a rate that they did.

For Gonzaga, it means another pre-Elite Eight elimination, meaning Dan Monson remains the only head coach to lead the Bulldogs past the Sweet 16.

This Round of 32 loss does little to substantiate the calls for more respect to be given to this batch of mid-major teams on the West Coast that came throughout the season. Those calls grew louder when Gonzaga reached No. 1 in the national polls. Of the seven teams from the Mountain West and West Coast Conference that made the NCAA tournament, only San Diego State has a chance to make it to the Sweet 16. The Aztecs tip off against No. 15-seed Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday at 7:10 p.m.

That series of losses includes No. 3 New Mexico in an upset to No. 14 Harvard in the Round of 64, UNLV, and Saint Mary’s in that same round, as well as Boise State in the First Four and Colorado State in the Round of 32.

The Gonzaga loss could have one other lasting effect on the NCAA tournament: No. 1 seeding for mid-major schools. With this memory of Bulldog loss, there could be some hesitancy to hand another non-BCS school a No. 1 seed. The ironic part is, though, that many may fail to remember that it was a mid-major who eliminated that mid-major No. 1.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

  1. livingsacrifice86 - Mar 23, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    #1 my arse…and that’s coming from a Zag fan

  2. sdb74 - Mar 23, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    Sorry but this was no “shocker”. This was a shock in seed only. The reality is Gonzaga should have been way closer to a 9 seed like Wichita St than a 1 seed. I’ve been saying it all year but Gonzaga is just not that good. They have played absolutely no one since Jan 11 when Butler beat them. Gonzaga’s league is a complete joke. They should take a cue from Butler who ditched the Horizon for the Atlantic 10 & now is moving to the new Big East. Maybe Gonzaga could move to the Mountain West? I know that future Selection Committees should not consider Gonzaga for any higher than a 4/5 seed as long as they remain in the WCC. A lot of people thought Gonzaga was really good because they lost 2 games. That’s lazy. You have to look at things a little deeper than that & use common sense. In Big Ten & Big East terms, Gonzaga would be Illinois, Minnesota, or Villanova, which means 9-9 best case. Again, no surprise here as no one should have expected Gonzaga to make the Sweet Sixteen.

    • arlingtonsynn - Mar 24, 2013 at 12:44 AM

      A little bit harsh perhaps.

      Gonzaga has all the tools and talent to be a #1. The problem is they aren’t battle tested like a Syracuse or Ohio State.

      The value of a conference containing other top tier teams.

      • hkl2013 - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:38 PM

        So tired of hearing haters say the Zags didn’t play anyone. West Virgina, Clemson, Oklahoma, Davidson, Illinois, Kansas State, Baylor, Butler and Oklahoma State. They have no control over their conference schedule nor how well each team performs throughout the season. The AD makes the best schedule he can, with quality opponents before the season starts. It would have been great to go play all the teams that ended up at the top of the polls during the year, but a little tough to predict who would finish at or near the top. Yeah we could just ditch the West Coast conference and go where? I have no doubts that Gonzaga would and could compete in any conference in America. Also as you sit on your sofa, maybe contemplate what some top tier teams have to gain by playing Gonzaga? FYI, they don’t want to play Gonzaga in the non conference!

    • adunn4funn - Apr 29, 2013 at 7:12 AM

      I can go even further than this why is are the mid major schools contributing their time and money to the farce that is the ncaa tournament you saw the final 4 everyone knows that the ncaa is never going to let the mid major win the national championship so why are they so against the mid major national championship tournament so they can determine their own champion the association obviously are not going to let them win the championship obvious to those who saw the horribly refereed national semifinal game featuring wichita state and louisville its not fair that we should have to witness a travesty like that game which unfortunately is going to continue to be the theme of the ncaa what a waist

  3. nothanksimdriving123 - Mar 23, 2013 at 11:45 PM

    Sorry, but as a longtime Zags fan, not shocked. The Zags have a glorious history of coming up short in big games. The last consistent winner they produced was Bing Crosby. Sigh.

  4. pistolpete0903 - Mar 24, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    Couldn’t agree more with SDB74.
    The #1 seed was not deserved, and they could have used some games against quality opponents before the tourney.

    Looks like the champ is coming from the Big-10

  5. yyyass - Mar 24, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    This season I only caught Gonzaga in this tournament, and was completely underwhelmed. They played no better than a typical 9-10 level seed. And Stockton looks like a completely overmatched high school kid pressed in to service at point guard. I was shocked at his low level of contribution to their offense. WSU didn’t even need to account for him for anything. He can’t drive, dish, fake, score, or shoot threes. Few is going to have an issue having to replace this kid. He’s nowhere near his father in skill. It’s like Gonzaga was playing 4 against 5.

  6. 11thstreetmafia - Mar 24, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    No one was surprised by this except for the media. Even a lot of their surprise seems manufactured. I mean, c’mon, it’s Gozaga.

  7. cskreager - Mar 24, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    Did Wichita State play anybody this year other than Creighton and VCU?

    They also played mostly nobodies, but they jack up some 3′s and now they’re Ametica’s darlings.

  8. namriverrat69 - Mar 24, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    We should just take the bracket form our fearless leader fills out and declare a national champion from that. Look at all the money we would save.

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