Gonzaga doubters point to less-rough road to title game

Gonzaga players celebrate after the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against South Carolina, Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. Gonzaga won 77-73. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Just like Rodney Dangerfield, Gonzaga doesn’t get no respect.

The Zags beat South Carolina, 77-73, in the Final Four, advancing to Monday’s national championship game.

Here’s the end of Saturday’s game:

And coach Mark Few with this nice celebratory move:

It’s pretty remarkable story:

And it’s hard to argue that Gonzaga isn’t good:

But there still are plenty of Gonzaga doubters/haters out there. And some question whether the Bulldogs are in the title game because of some bracket luck:

It should be pointed out that South Dakota State actually was a conference champion. Regardless, ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt was not thrilled with McIntyre’s observation:

Nor was ESPN’s Joe Lunardi:

But Jason McIntyre is hardly the only person to bring this up:

Gonzaga simply doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt other school’s receive:

Nigel Williams-Goss is feeling the disrepect:

SB Nation’s Ben Goren argues Gonzaga’s path is typical of No. 1 seeds:

Here’s the thing though: Gonzaga’s path to the Final Four is actually not that different from how most top-seeded schools get there. It’s crazy, but it’s almost like if you play a great season and are rewarded with a great seed, you end up playing teams that are worse than you. It’s a novel concept, I know, but strangely, that’s how the math seems to work out every year. Yes, it’s true, by this metric this year’s Gonzaga’s team is the second “luckiest” Final Four team. But keep in mind that the only difference between them and 2017 UNC or 2015 Wisconsin, who both played the toughest possible seeds for a 1 seed (16, 8, 4, 2), is just that Xavier game. Every other game, Gonzaga drew chalk.

And then Goren gets to the heart of the matter:

So, Gonzaga has had the easiest potential path, in terms of seeds faced, since … North Carolina a year ago. I don’t recall people deriding North Carolina a year ago for catching breaks, but the run was almost identical until the Tar Heels faced Villanova in the final. The highest-seeded team faced before then was a 5-seed. UNLV had the “easiest” run to a title back in 1990, when they blew Duke out in the championship game, but history doesn’t discount that one. This is about Gonzaga. Yes, they may have caught some breaks. Every team that wins gets this far needs talent and some luck, whether it be winning a close game with that late shot at the buzzer against another great team, or avoiding them. But you beat the teams in front of you, and every champion has been the only team that did not lose a game to someone in the tournament.

The Big Lead’s Jason Lisk basically agrees and says some can’t get past Gonzaga being a small school coming from a little-watched conference:

The bottom line is that when people point to Gonzaga’s route to the Final Four, and now the Championship game, as “lucky,” they’re doing so because it confirms their preconceived notion that Gonzaga isn’t legit. To be so transparently selective when it comes to what does and doesn’t make a tough NCAA Tournament run is evidence of the disrespect that this year’s Gonzaga team unjustly has to deal with.

What do you think? Does Gonzaga deserve less respect because of its relatively easy path to the championship game?

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