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Gonzaga is Marching Towards a #1 Seed in the NCAA Tournament

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Kelly Olynyk and Gonzaga are on the verge of becoming the top ranked team in college basketball. (Credit: William Mancebo/Getty Images)

Kelly Olynyk and Gonzaga are on the verge of becoming the top ranked team in college basketball. (Credit: William Mancebo/Getty Images)

In a season that has been filled with weekly uncertainty in the rankings , one of the schools that has defined the term mid-major finds itself near the top of college basketball. Gonzaga will likely be ranked number one in the polls on Monday for the first time in program history, if they can win their two remaining WCC regular season games (@ BYU tonight, Portland on Saturday).

While Gonzaga has played in the last 14 NCAA tournaments, they have only been past the Sweet Sixteen once, a trip to the Elite Eight in 1999 that helped put the school on the map as a basketball power. This year’s squad may be the best that Mark Few has ever assembled in Spokane. The Zags probably wont earn the top overall seed in the tourney, but they should find themselves among the top four seeds like other teams from the past in mid-majors.

1986

Louisville – Metro Conference

Won the Final Four with a 72-69 victory over Duke in the finals.

1987

UNLV – Big West

Advanced to the Final Four before losing, 97-93, to eventual-champion Indiana.

1988

Temple – Atlantic 10

Lost to second-seeded Duke in the regional finals.

1990

UNLV – Big West

Cut down the nets after beating Duke, 103-73,  in the largest margin of victory ever in the national title game.

1991

UNLV – Big West

Entered the NCAA Tournament with a perfect record of 30-0, but lost to Duke in the Final Four.

1996

Massachusetts – Atlantic 10*

Ranked first heading in to the NCAA Tournament before losing in the Final Four to eventual-champion Kentucky. The Minutemen’s Final Four appearance was later vacated by the NCAA.

1998

Utah – WAC

The Utes lost in the championship game to Kentucky.

2002

Cincinnati – Conference USA

Upset by UCLA in a high-scoring second round game, 105-101.

2004

Saint Joseph’s – Atlantic 10

National Player of the Year Jameer Nelson helped lead Saint Joseph’s to a 27-0 regular season record, but the Red Hawks couldn’t get past Oklahoma State in the Elite Eight, falling 64-62.

2006

Memphis – Conference USA

After breezing through the first half of an upset-filled tourney, the Tigers fell short in the Elite Eight against the UCLA Bruins.

2008

Memphis – Conference USA*

Two years later, John Calipari’s squad finished as the national runner-up in an overtime loss against Kansas in the championship game, after leading by 9 points with 2:12 remaining in regulation. The Tiger’s Final Four appearance was later vacated by the NCAA.

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