Gonzaga possesses an exceptionally distinct resume in the era of NCAA Tournament NET rankings.

Precedence doesn’t factor into the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee’s decisions on team seeding, yet the Gonzaga Bulldogs are poised to achieve a remarkable feat when their name is announced on Sunday.

The Bulldogs (25-7, 14-2 WCC) have assembled a distinctive at-large resume according to the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), which became the primary sorting mechanism for team evaluation starting from the 2018 offseason. Since the NCAA revised the NET before the 2020-21 season, no program has managed to combine quality victories and advanced metric ratings quite like the 2023-24 Bulldogs.

Analyzing their resume, Gonzaga ranks 17th in the NET with a 3-6 record in Quad 1 games, 4-1 in Quad 2, and a flawless 17-0 record in Quad 3 and Quad 4 combined. According to KenPom, the Zags stand ninth in adjusted offensive efficiency and 48th in adjusted defensive efficiency. It’s noteworthy that the Bulldogs didn’t secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament following their 69-60 defeat to Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference Tournament championship game.

From 2021 through last season, 16 teams placed in the top 10 in adjusted offensive efficiency and the top 50 in adjusted defensive efficiency. Out of those, 15 received either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The lone exception was 2021 Houston, seeded 5th despite being ranked third in the NET on Selection Sunday. Only two teams with a top-10 offense and top-50 defense and ranked outside the top 10 of the NET before the NCAA Tournament were 2023 Marquette and 2022 Duke, both 12th in the NET and 2-seeds in the Big Dance.

The significant disparity between those past teams and this season’s Gonzaga team lies in the quality of victories. Duke had 12 wins in the first two quadrants, while Marquette had 14 before Selection Sunday. Each had suffered one Quad 3 loss, which partly explains why they were just outside the NET’s top 10.

However, it’s not limited to those two teams—all 16 teams with a top-10 offense and top-50 defense averaged 14.1 Quad 1 and Quad 2 wins before the NCAA Tournament. This indicates that programs with somewhat similar efficiency numbers had double the amount of quality wins compared to Gonzaga heading into Selection Sunday.

Based on historical data, Gonzaga’s NET ranking suggests it could secure at least a 6-seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The last three teams ranked 17th before Selection Sunday were, at worst, 6-seeds, although all of them had at least eight wins in the first two quadrants. While quality of wins hasn’t always aligned with a team’s NET ranking—such as 2021 Colgate being No. 9 in the NET without a single Quad 1 win—it’s noteworthy in Gonzaga’s case considering its efficiency ranks (Colgate wasn’t even in the top 50 in offensive or defensive efficiency that season).

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