Mark Few spoke with the Seth Davis Show about whether Gonzaga could, and should, still be considered a mid-major. Unsurprisingly, the Zags’ head coach isn’t fond of the classification.
Since bursting onto the college basketball scene with their unforgettable trip to the Elite Eight in 1999, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have remained one of the sport’s strongest, most consistent teams.
Long gone are the days of glass slippers. Head coach Mark Few has turned this program into an elite competitor in college hoops.
And yet, the Bulldogs continue to be tabbed as a mid-major program by a number of pundits in the college basketball realm.
Gonzaga gets continuously knocked for two main reasons:
- Being a member of a non-Power Five conference
- Having never made a Final Four appearance
It’s an argument that Few and the Gonzaga faithful have been incessantly reminded of for over a decade. Despite the ceaseless beating of this dead horse, Few maintains his stance on his program’s status in college hoops.
“… I don’t think we are [a mid major],” Few said in an interview on the Seth Davis Show. “First of all, I don’t know what exactly the definition is. And I think if you look at our success we’ve had, as you mentioned, if you look at our seeding in the NCAA Tournament, if you look at how we schedule, if you look at how we travel, if you look at how our staff is taken care of … I don’t know that we fit into a box.”
Few makes a very valid argument – Gonzaga challenges itself with a tough non-conference schedule every year. The Bulldogs’ impressive strength of schedule has become a big factor in their favorable seeding in recent NCAA Tournaments.
More so, the university is currently constructing the Volkar Center for Athletic Achievement, a 51,240-square-foot, three-story facility with state-of-the-art accommodations for Gonzaga’s student-athletes.
These types of developments don’t quite scream “mid-major.”
That said, it’s crucial to explore both sides of an argument, and the Zags’ critics have legitimate points as well.
Gonzaga is, unarguably, in a mid-major conference. Any conference that is outside of the Power Five (and in the case of basketball, the Big East) is, essentially, a mid-to-low-major conference. So how could the Zags be considered a major program when half of their schedule is played against non-Power Five competition?
It’s a credible argument that shouldn’t be overlooked.
No, Gonzaga doesn’t play the same rigorous conference schedule that Big Ten or ACC does. No, the Bulldogs have not yet reached that elusive Final Four. Those are two valid points that can justifiably be used against Gonzaga’s high-major status.
But, reverting back to Few’s argument, compare Gonzaga’s standings in various categories that affect tournament seeding for the Big Dance. The Zags frequently rank highly in the KenPom rankings, a measurement that rates the offense and defense on points scored/allowed per possession. The Bulldogs are No. 15 in the current KenPom ratings.
And though it’s early in the season and these standings will change, Gonzaga currently boasts the best RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) in all of college basketball, and possesses a strength of schedule that ranks in the top 10 nationally.
The rankings are a testament to Few’s argument. Gonzaga challenges itself with arduous non-conference scheduling and is the top dog in its conference slate (which really isn’t nearly as much of a cake walk as some make it out to be).
So, yes, the argument that Gonzaga meets the definition of a mid-major can be made. But as long as the Zags’ onerous scheduling and superb statistical standings continue, the argument that Gonzaga is a high-major program will always hold water.