• Gonzaga 'a lock', surprising UW on track for 2018 NCAA Tournament bids

    By: Riley Michel

    Updated:

    Following the University of Washington's last-second win over the University of Arizona, it looks increasingly likely that the state of Washington will have two representatives in the NCAA tournament for the first time since Eastern Washington and Gonzaga both appeared in 2015.

    Gonzaga, currently ranked 12th in the country in the AP Top 25, is considered a lock by many college basketball pundits to make their 20th straight NCAA tournament appearance when the brackets are announced on Sunday, March 11, on CBS. 

    The Zags, fresh off their first Final Four appearance in school history, carry a 21-4 record into Thursday's match-up against the University of the Pacific. Their tournament resume is boosted by wins over potential tournament teams in Ohio State, Creighton and Washington.

    >> PHOTOS: Gonzaga beats South Carolina to advance to 2017 NCAA Championship

    A road win over No. 11 Saint Mary's on Saturday would give Gonzaga an inside track at winning the West Coast Conference regular season title for the 17th straight year. 

    As of Monday, CBS Sports' "bracketologist" Jerry Palm projects Gonzaga as a No. 4 seed playing No. 13 seed East Tennessee State in a first-round matchup in Boise, Idaho while ESPN's "bracketologist" Joe Lunardi projects Gonzaga as a No. 6 seed playing No. 11 seed Providence in a first-round match-up in Dallas, Texas. 

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    ​Across the state, the University of Washington continues to be one of the most surprising teams in the country and is looking to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 2010-11 season. Under first-year head coach Mike Hopkins, the Huskies currently carry a 17-6 record (7-3 in Pac 12 play) into Thursday's road match-up against the University of Oregon. 

    Before last weekend, the Huskies were considered by many college basketball pundits to be on the outside looking in for this year's NCAA tournament. However, back-to-back home wins over then No. 25 ranked Arizona State and No. 9 Arizona have moved the Huskies firmly into the tournament conversation. 

    The sweep over the Arizona schools, combined with a road win over Kansas in December gives the Huskies a strong tournament resume with less than a month left in the regular season. 

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    As of Monday, CBS Sports' "bracketologist" Jerry Palm projects UW as a No. 7 seed playing No. 10 TCU in a first-round match-up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while ESPN's "bracketologist" Joe Lunardi projects UW as a No. 10 seed playing No. 7 seed Nevada in a first-round match-up in Detroit, Michigan.

    Regardless of the current projections, both Gonzaga and the University of Washington know that they have to finish conference play strong, and carry momentum into their respective conference tournaments to guarantee spots in this year's NCAA tournament. 

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