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TV Take: No. 1 seed talk for Gonzaga plentiful from ESPNU’s remote site broadcast crew

Gonzaga forward Zach Collins (32) drives past Santa Clara center Tony Lewis (35) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Is there an upper limit two people can talk about one subject over a 2-hour period?

If there is, the ESPNU broadcast crew of John Brickley and Sean Harrington tested the stratosphere Thursday night in Santa Clara, California.

Actually, they did it from Bristol, Connecticut, or wherever the duo was located.

They were not in the Leavey Center with the rest of the ESPN production crew as undefeated and fourth-ranked Gonzaga beat down the Broncos 88-57 to run its record to 18-0 overall, 6-0 in West Coast Conference play.

Instead, Brickley, doing the play-by-play, and Farrington, the color commentary, worked the contest from a remote site. It’s a policy that saves ESPN money and, at times, feels seamless for the folks watching at home.

Thursday’s game wasn’t one of those times, but we’ll get to that later.

It’s more important to get back to the seemingly endless discussion on whether the Zags can finish the regular season undefeated and/or whether they will be a No. 1 seed if they do.

The conversation started early, less than 2 minutes into the game. And it continued throughout the night, with the last of about a dozen separate discussions occurring in the final 30 seconds.

So can the Bulldogs go undefeated, at least until the NCAA tournament begins?

Harrington was, at first, somewhat noncommittal.

“That’s very likely,” he said with about 11 minutes left in the first half, “and it’s a possibility.”

So which is it, likely or just a possibility?

As the game wore on, and Santa Clara wore down under GU’s relentless pressure on both ends, Harrington became more emphatic.

He’s in. His only concern, he reiterated three times, is how they will handle the pressure of an undefeated season.

When the duo threw it back to the studio – one wonders if the toss was just a couple of doors down a hall or all the way to another building on ESPN’s sprawling campus – at halftime, analyst Paul Biancardi was more emphatic about the Zags’ chances. And why.

“What’s so impressive to me and so different than (other GU) teams, your defense,” he said as the Zags led 38-22 at intermission. “They are guarding defensively on the perimeter and in the paint.

“That’s why I think they’ll end up in the Final Four.”

ESPN’s bracketology guru, Joe Lunardi, isn’t that high on Gonzaga at this point. In a 5-minute first-half phone interview, Lunardi laid out why he has the nation’s only undefeated team as a second seed.

To summarize: It has a lot to do with geography. He’s deferring to UCLA and the Bruins’ Pac-12 schedule among other things.

The bracketology talk just seemed to increase the speculation about GU’s status. Anything to avoid talking about what turned out to be a 31-point blowout.

Oh sure, Brickley pointed out early on Santa Clara needed “one of (Jared Brownridge’s) best games, not only of this season but of his career,” to pull an upset.

Being that Brownridge has scored as many as 44 points in a college contest, that seemed like a bold statement. It wasn’t.

The senior guard finished with 23, so even another 21 would have still left the Broncos 10 points back.

At least Harrington pronounced Brownridge’s name correctly.

At least twice he called Przemek Karnowski, “Karnewski,” quite possibly using the classic Gaelic pronunciation or something.

  • Also today: Three keys from GU’s 88-57 win over Santa Clara.

He also struggled to differentiate between Zags players. During a second half taped segment on a successful Gonzaga scoring play, he misidentified Killian Tillie as fellow freshman Zach Collins.

Brickley chipped in on that front as well, crediting Josh Perkins after Nigel Williams-Goss dove on the floor for a loose ball with the Zags up 67-45 and 7:31 left.

It’s understandable. After all, it must be hard to see clearly from 3,000 miles away.

The Spokesman-Review