When March Madness turns into March Sadness for a team, it’s never easy to deal with. Some people may destroy things out of anger, some people may refuse to acknowledge the loss ever again, and some bloggers may weep for hours into a crude drawing they made of Sabonis.
Last Friday’s game against Syracuse was heartbreaking. I originally wanted to use words other than “heartbreaking” to describe the outcome, but my editor told me that I would be fired and/or arrested if I used that language, so for now I’ll stick with heartbreaking. In any case, life goes on, so let’s focus on some positives.
1. We Got Further Than Most People Expected
Let me drop some statistics on you for a second. Only 47.3% of the 13 million brackets submitted to ESPN had the Zags making it past the first round. That number shrinks considerably to 19.4% in the round of 32.
Gonzaga made it to the Sweet Sixteen, which is something that only 2.5% of people predicted. Let’s take that 2.5% into perspective. According to a Gallup, 6% of Americans believe that the moon landing was faked. National Geographic tells us that 10% of Americans believe they have seen a UFO. Unless basic math fails me (and it has before), both 10% and 6% are greater than 2.5%.
So yeah. What does that say about you, America?
2. You May Actually Have Time To Study/Work Now
March Madness may be your favorite time of the year, but it’s extremely difficult to be productive, especially when the Zags are playing. I have many friends who would skip classes to watch games. Even my philosophy teacher told us she would probably leave us to go to the Final Four if the Zags made it. Now that the one team that you actually cared about is out, it’s time to try (and fail) to be productive again.
3. We’re Already Looking Good For Next Year
It’s going to be tough to lose graduating players like Wiltjer and McClellan. There’s also the possibility that Przemek and Sabonis will leave us early to go play professionally. That being said, Gonzaga is about to bring in its highest rated recruit class that we’ve ever had at the school, so you should be excited.
Zach Collins, Gonzaga’s first McDonalds All-American player to start out with the school, is the sixth highest rated center in the country. We’re also getting Killian Tillie (21st highest rated forward), Jacob Larsen (17th highest rated forward), Zach Norvell (15th highest rated shooting guard), and Rui Hachumura (killing it in Tokyo).
Add Nigel Williams-Goss from UW and Jonathan Williams from Missouri and we’re looking good. Remember that we’ll still have Mark Few and we’re looking great.
4. You Can Finally Have A Conversation With Someone About Things Other Than Gonzaga Basketball
I consider myself a casual basketball fan. I know a good amount about Gonzaga basketball, I can recognize which teams to hate, and I’ll watch the occasional Celtics game when it’s on TV.
However, when you go to Gonzaga and your team’s in the tournament, every single person you run into will grill you on all things basketball. After the fifth stranger asks you what Kelly Olynyk’s free throw percentage was in 2011, you start to become a little tired of pretending you know things. Post-tournament, you can shift the conversation to an area you know more about (such as Hot Pockets or loneliness).
5. This Isn’t Our Last Time In The Tournament
We’ve made the tournament 18 times, 17 times consecutively. We’ll make the tournament again, and you figure by the 25th or 26th consecutive year we’ll have had made it to a Final Four. We’ll be back.
6. Our Mascot Isn’t An Orange
Guys, I can’t stress this enough. Win or lose, our mascot isn’t an orange. When your mascot looks like somebody drew a face on the Doritos-dust-covered stomach of a shirtless fat man with a hat, you can’t expect to be taken seriously. An orange isn’t powerful, it isn’t intimidating, and you could easily beat it in a fight with a plastic knife. An orange isn’t even the best thing in a fruit salad. At least we have that.