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Pargo on SI cover

Gonzaga guard Jeremy Pargo on the cover of Sports Illustrated. (The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guard Jeremy Pargo on the cover of Sports Illustrated. (The Spokesman-Review)

This week’s issue of Sports Illustrated includes six regional covers featuring teams advancing to the Sweet 16 of the 2009 NCAA men’s basketball championship:  Gonzaga, Jeremy Pargo; Michigan State, Kalin Lucas; North Carolina, Ty Lawson; Oklahoma, Blake Griffin; Pittsburgh, Levance Fields; and Syracuse, Jonny Flynn, are featured on the covers, with the billing Let’s Get It On.


Senior writer Tim Layden says of the 16 remaining teams: “They all hope for two weeks more.  Sixteen teams survived the first weekend of the tournament, and now there is a fortnight left to finish sweet redemption, to slip through a narrow window in time or to seize one last chance after narrow misses and crippling disappointment in the past."


In another story “Mid-Major Heroes: Underdogs no more” by Kelli Anderson, the Zags are touted as the envy of every mid-major program in the country.


Anderson writes:  “As March Madness got under way in 1999, Gonzaga had never before won an NCAA tournament game…. Over the next week and a half the players from the small Jesuit school would dazzle the nation by knocking off seventh-seeded Minnesota, No. 2-seed Stanford and sixth-seeded Florida before bowing in the final seconds to eventual champion Connecticut in the Elite Eight.  But unlike most tournament darlings, the Zags forgot to fade back into obscurity.  They have now made 11 straight NCAA tournament appearances.”


Purdue coach Matt Painter, whose Boilermakers also advanced out of Portland, says of Gonzaga:  “These things usually go in cycles. But Gonzaga has never hit that downward cycle…. They might be in a conference that gets labeled mid-major, but there is nothing about Gonzaga that’s mid-major.”

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