The #1 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs ran through the West Coast Conference regular-season going 15-0 in WCC play, adding to their already spectacular 24-0 season. They bowled over the competition winning every game by double digits and never having their perfect record threatened.
As WCC honours were announced they took home four of the five major individual awards and had 4 of their starters named to the all WCC First-Team.
Corey Kispert won WCC Player of the Year, Mark Few won WCC Coach of the Year, Andrew Nembhard won WCC Sixth Man of the Year and Jalen Suggs won WCC Newcomer of the Year. BYU center Matt Harmms was the only non-Zag to receive a WCC award, winning WCC Defensive Player of the Year.
Kispert, the centerpiece of Gonzaga’s attack now owns a 119-10 record with the Bulldogs over his four year college career. The Pre-Season All-American lived up to the hype averaging 19.5PPG this season with 4.9RPG and 1.8APG. Kispert did all of this while only playing 30 minutes a game, as most games Gonzaga had wrapped up before the under 10. However, perhaps the most impressive part of Kispert’s game this season has been his offensive efficiency. Kispert has had an absurd offensive rating of 135.8 points per 100 possessions, as well as an effective field goal percentage of 67.1%.
While there are a handful of players with higher effective field goal percentages, none of them are able to spread the floor like Kispert. Having his best perimeter shooting season of his career, Kispert has utilized his size and stroke to hoist up 6.1 three pointers a game and convert on 46.3% of them. That is the 5th best three-point shooting percentage among players who have attempted 100 or more three pointers. Kispert is only one of the many pieces Gonzaga features, as the aforementioned duo of Suggs and Nembhard have been great new toys for Mark Few to plug and play.
Suggs, a top prospect for the upcoming NBA draft is an efficient shooter, who is a stat-sheet stuffer. Suggs as of now is averaging 13.7PPG along with 5.5RPG and 4.5APG, and is the primary ball-handler. It is all the more impressive that Suggs is doing this as a freshman, and he truly has been impactful from the moment he touched the floor. In his debut, Suggs dropped 24 points along with 8 assists against the Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawks were not the only major program to fill the wrath of Suggs, as the Gonzaga freshman dropped 27 points against Iowa in December.
As for Nembhard, the Florida transfer was Few’s favourite piece to come off the bench. Nembhard, formerly a starter for the Gators, became a key piece for the Zags as he enjoyed his best shooting season of his career and was the primary ball-handler when Suggs was on the bench. Having a former Power 5 starter coming off your bench is great in any rate, but when it’s a player with the scoring and passing capabilities of Nembhard, there leaves little doubt as to why Gonzaga is the favourite heading into March.
Speaking of March, no other person needs an NCAA title more than Mark Few. Few has done it all; 19-time WCC regular-season champion, 16-time WCC Tournament champion, 14-time WCC Coach of the Year, 2017 AP Coach of the Year and the 2017 Final Four. The only thing missing from Few’s cabinet is a title and this is the best team he has ever assembled.
With a rotation that goes about 10 deep, Few can mix and match while getting 20+ minutes from his core six of Kispert, Timme, Suggs, Ayayi, Watson and Nembhard. The team shoots 55.3% from the floor, 36.1% from three and is steady at the free throw line shooting 73.1%. They steadily out-rebound their opponents with a +7.3 rebounding margin, they have great ball security and leave their opponents flustered with a turnover margin of +3.4 and they pass the ball as good as anyone with 18.7APG.
This is a complete team and they haven’t wavered yet this season. From the tip they’ve been spectacular and I don’t see that changing. They have an average margin of victory of 23.5 and are still only 11-11-2 ATS, sportsbooks know how good the Zags are, but to be offered them at +250 to win March Madness still feels like a great pick. If you are still out on this Gonzaga team, you need to go watch the tape of Gonzaga’s Power 5 games this year, because this team is the clear favourite. It’s Gonzaga versus the field, and I will take Gonzaga every day.