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ESPN’s Jay Bilas praises Gonzaga basketball, says they can go undefeated

 (Screengrab via ESPN.com)
(Screengrab via ESPN.com)
By Michael Gulledge michaelg@spokesman.com,

The national spotlight for college basketball continues to shine on Spokane.

ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said the Bulldogs are legit this year, and have the potential to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

“It certainly is (Mark Few’s) most balanced team. They’ve got four really good guards, and four really good big guys,” Bilas said.

Bilas continued to say the Bulldogs will finish the regular season undefeated and earn a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament.

Gonzaga has qualified for 18 straight NCAA tournaments, but has never made it to the Final Four. The Bulldogs, however, have been close to the Final Four, having advanced to the Elite Eight twice.

Their first Elite Eight appearance was in 1999, when the Zags fell to Connecticut, 67-62. In 2015, Gonzaga posted a 29-2 record during the regular season but was outsted by Duke in the South Regional Final in Houston. Both Connecticut and Duke went on to win the national championship those seasons.

Bilas believes this year’s Gonzaga squad is capable of qualifying for the Final Four.

“Once they do break through (to the Final Four), I think it’ll shine the spotlight on how great Gonzaga has been since 1999,” Bilas said. “They’ve been as good as any program in America.”

Last Saturday, Dick Vitale, who also analyzes college basketball for ESPN, tweeted Gonzaga has “legit Final 4 potential.”

The Bulldogs look to improve upon their undefeated season in a home matchup in the McCarthey Athletic Center against Portland on Saturday night.

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