This week’s AP and USA Today Polls find Gonzaga University as the number 6 ranked team in the country. Kenpom has the Zags at #9. The BPI ratings have Gonzaga at #9 while the RPI has the Zags at 12. Not great numbers, but Gonzaga has only two losses, to Illinois and at Butler. The Zags are going to likely end up in the discussion to be a #1 seed if they can win out in the West Coast Conference.
If Gonzaga keeps winning and winds up as a 1 seed it will follow some exceptional “midmajor” teams that achieved this feat. Here is a list of schools that reached a number 1 seed as a midmajor since the committee began seeding teams in 1979.
Year Team Seed League Result
1979 Indiana State 1 Midwest Missouri Valley Lost in NCAA Final
1980 DePaul 1 West Independent Lost in 2nd Round
1981 DePaul 1 Mideast Independent Lost in 2nd Round
1982 DePaul 1 Midwest Independent Lost in 2nd Round
1984 DePaul 1 Midwest Independent Lost Regional Semi
1987 UNLV 1 West Big West Lost in NCAA Semi
1988 Temple 1 East Atlantic 10 Lost in Regional Final
1990 UNLV 1 West Big West Won NCAA Tourney
1991 UNLV 1 West Big West Lost in NCAA Semi
1996 UMass 1 East Atlantic 10 Lost in NCAA Semi2002 Cinncinnati 1 West Conference USA Lost in 2nd Round
2004 St Joseph’s 1 East Atlantic 10 Lost in Regional Final
2006 Memphis 1 West Conference USA Lost in Regional Final
2008 Memphis 1 South Conference USA Lost in NCAA Final
DePaul’s four number one seeds were done while it played as an independent. UNLV received a number one seed three times out of the Big West Conference.
What makes Gonzaga’s rise to potential number 1 seed unusual is that they are doing it outside of the Atlantic 10 or Conference USA where St. Joe’s, Temple, and Cincinnati came from. They aren’t UNLV or Memphis, with large NBA type arenas and metro areas that support the program the way some cities embrace an NBA team -- making Gonzaga's potential top seed, as a small Catholic school, in Spokane, Washington more of a true aberration than anything the NCAA tournament has seen since Larry Bird’s Indiana State team in 1979.