The 2013-2014 College basketball season is around the corner, finally. USA Today came out with the first preseason ranking of the season and has Gonzaga ranked 14th. Gonzaga ended the 2012-2013 season #1, but this team like each year, is different is the ranking too high? Do these rankings even matter this early in the season?
Link for full College basketball preseason rankings USA Today
If you look at the rankings for Gonzaga preseason and postseason over the last 10 years, it is hard to predict the outcome of the season or how true the ranking is when the season is all set and done. These rankings are pre and post season rankings based off the USA Today’s Coaches Poll.
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As the table shows, the preseason ranking does not always get it right. Just last season Gonzaga was ranked at the end of the top 25, and by the end of the season Gonzaga was #1. Now it is hard to predict which teams are going to be good throughout the season and which teams look good on paper, but the preseasons rankings should be taken lightly. College basketball rankings are not like College football. They don’t matter. In College football the BCS rankings make the difference between being in the National title game and another BCS bowl game. In College basketball you can be #1 in the country and not receive a 1 seed. It is based off a tournament committee who picks the seeds.
Gonzaga has started the season all over the place. They have been ranked very high like when they were 7th in 2005, or 11th in 2008 and they have been ranked low when several times they were unranked going into the season. Like I said previously it is hard to predict where the team will end up each season and this year will be no different.
Gonzaga is ranked 14th this year, which is high. The Bulldogs lost their front court and arguably two best players in Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris, as well as glue man Mike Hart each who were starters. Losing three starters is never easy for any team, especially when Gonzaga’s front court will be depleted this year. They have big shoes to fill and it can be done, but Gonzaga will have very little depth this year which can hurt them big time.
The Zags do have Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. returning this season with two
seasons under their belt as well as transfers Gerard Coleman and Angel Nunez. The guards will need to take control of this team to really live up to the ranking. Coleman and Nunez have high expectations already and they are yet to play a minute. Gonzaga will rely on their athleticism and experience with their previous schools (Providence and Louisville) to help this years backcourt. With Olynyk and Harris gone, Sam Dower Jr. and Przemek Karnowski need to step up. Dower has always been able to score the ball but is he fast enough to guard a power forward? I don’t think so. Karnowski should make progress from his freshman season, but will this duo’s production be higher than Olynyk’s and Harris? They don’t need to match Olynyk and Harris’s numbers as the guard production will be up this year but, need to hold down the paint.
Gonzaga in my opinion deserves to be a ranked team, but I would have them slated in the early 20’s at #22. There is a lot of talent and potential on this team, however this team is missing a true power forward and frontcourt depth, which I think, will be hard to overcome. Past Sam Dower Jr. and Przemek Karnowski, Ryan Edwards a true freshman is the only other big man. Gonzaga will find ways to win games this year, but until they figure out how they are going to deal with their rotations and depth, it will be hard in my opinion to have them above #20 even as much as it pains me to say that.
The preseasons rankings can never be taken to seriously. Last year, Kentucky was ranked 3rd in the nation to start the year. They ended up out of the rankings and in the NIT by season end. This doesn’t happen each year, but the point is the season is very long and you cannot determine too much based off one poll. It is nice to get excited about the season and to have a place established for your team, but the only rankings that matter in NCAA basketball is the tournament seed at the end of the year. Gonzaga in ranked too high to start the season but I hope I am wrong. Like rankings in the past you will never know until the end of the season.