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Gonzaga top seed in West Region in ESPN.com’s first 2021 bracketology

UPDATED: Mon., April 6, 2020

Gonzaga coach Mark Few reacts during the second half in the Zags’ win over San Francisco in the WCC Tournament semifinals in Las Vegas. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga coach Mark Few reacts during the second half in the Zags’ win over San Francisco in the WCC Tournament semifinals in Las Vegas. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Next season’s way-too-early top 25 polls have some company with the first way-too-early bracket projection.

Like in most other preseason rankings, Gonzaga is one of the top teams in Joe Lunardi’s initial bracketology for ESPN. The Zags are the No. 1 seed in the West Region – the exact spot most bracket gurus had GU in when the NCAA Tournament was canceled March 12 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gonzaga is joined on the top-seed line by Villanova, Creighton and Kentucky. Virginia, Duke, Baylor and Kansas are the No. 2 seeds.

Lunardi’s bracket has the Zags facing No. 16 Abilene Christian in Boise with the winner taking on the No. 8 Illinois-No. 9 Connecticut winner. Texas Tech, which faces Gonzaga on Dec. 19 in Phoenix, is the third seed in the West.

The rest of the West: No. 4 San Diego State, No. 5 North Carolina, No. 6 Oregon, No. 7 Rutgers, No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 11 Loyola Chicago, No. 12 Furman, No. 13 Texas State, No. 14 New Mexico State and No. 15 Winthrop.

Gonzaga was the only West Coast Conference program to make ESPN’s bracket. No other WCC teams were listed in the first four out or the next four out.

In addition to Texas Tech, the Zags will entertain No. 9 Arizona (Dec. 5) and visit No. 6 Texas (Nov. 13). Gonzaga is in the Orlando Invitational with potential matchups against No. 3 Michigan State, No. 9 Xavier, No. 12 Saint Louis and No. 13 Belmont.

The Big Ten leads the way with 10 representatives in the bracket, followed by the Pac-12 and Big 12 with seven apiece.

“Our methodology for future brackets is based on an algorithm of returning minutes per team, the established level of production of those minutes and guesstimates of how (and how well) a team’s non-returning minutes will be replaced,” Lunardi wrote. “The NBA draft process and NCAA transfer portal present moving targets for everyone, so this bracket might be obsolete for at least some teams in a day, a week or a month. We’ll update to reflect that movement as frequently as possible.”

The Zags are ranked No. 1 in preseason polls by USA Today, 247sports.com, CBSsports.com and CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein. Gonzaga is No. 2 according to Yahoo! Sports and NBCsports.com and No. 3 by ESPN.

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