A comment was posted from the Front Office Instagram account on a Tipton Edits post regarding the front runners in Chet Holmgren’s recruitment this afternoon saying Gonzaga was a blue blood, and boy oh boy did that receive some heat.
And I get it. Gonzaga isn’t in a power conference and doesn’t have a national championship, but they do have a track record that 99% of college basketball programs would kill for.
Ok so here is how I see it… There are some obvious blue bloods like North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, and Duke. Then there are some who I believe fall into that category like Villanova, Michigan State, Arizona, and Gonzaga. Yes, I said Gonzaga. And while the criticisms are fair they get overlooked so much by fans across college basketball and even the national media.
Mark Few is a top 5 coach in college basketball and has led Gonzaga to the NCAA tournament every year that he has been the head coach since he took over before the 1999-2000 season. He is one of the more creative coaches when it comes to x’s and o’s and he can recruit and develop with the best of the best. Every year it seems like Gonzaga has one of the best players in college basketball that is going to be a lottery pick, or he has a five-star recruit that he gets to develop, or sometimes both. Since 2005 he has coached eight former 5-star recruits and has had 10 players drafted into the NBA.
For me, a blue blood is a school that regardless of tournament success, is in it every year, and it is always a big deal when they get eliminated. Gonzaga fits that criteria to a tee. They have made the tournament in 21 straight seasons (would have been 22 if it wasn’t for you know…). That is a longer streak than Kentucky has ever had and is the fifth longest streak all-time. We are almost always able to pencil them in as a top 5 seed. Well, with the exception of 2016 when they were an 11 seed, and why out of all teams Seton Hall had to get matched up against them, in Denver, at 11pm on Thursday night after Seton Hall had been on fire for the past month and beat future National Champion Vilanova in the Big East Championship… Sorry, for getting off-topic, that’s a rant for another day. Anyway, they are always in the mix, and every year and even though they have never gotten to the pinnacle of college basketball can we really hold that against them?
Duke has only won twice this century in 2010 and 2015, and it could have only been once if Gordon Hayward got the bounce in 2010. Kansas has only won once in 2008, and that would have never happened if Derrick Rose could hit his free throws or if Mario Chalmers didn’t have ice in his veins. Kentucky has only won once in 2012. And UNC well, they have won three times, including one of those coming at the hands of the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Also, taking into consideration my other blue bloods, Villanova has two and Arizona doesn’t have any.
That makes up 10 of the 20 championships this century, which for those who are numerically inclined is 50% of the championships. Which means that if half the time they aren’t winning is it really a pre-requisite to being a blue blood? And a couple bounces go Gonzaga’s way and maybe they have a National Championship banner as well.
The final thing I take into consideration is the eye test. If someone says college basketball, what team comes to mind? For some, Gonzaga comes to mind. And what teams are you staying inside/staying up to watch? For most that is Duke or UNC, or if you are on the east coast maybe it’s Villanova. For a lot of people in the Midwest/Great Planes, it’s Kansas or Michigan State. For those on the West Coast and us night owls it’s Arizona and Gonzaga.
For those wondering, yes, if there is a 2020-2021 season Gonzaga will be nasty again. They have Jalen Suggs coming in.
And it wouldn’t be a Gonzaga blog without showing Adam Morrison some love.
Who do you think are the blue blood schools in college basketball? Did I miss any? Do I have too many?