Leading up to Midnight Madness in October, ESPN Insider's "Countdown to Madness" series is previewing the top five seeds in each of the four regions in Joe Lunardi's preseason 2013 NCAA bracket. To read about the key stats and freshman impact for each team as the previews are published, plus get expert predictions from Jay Bilas, Fran Fraschilla and Lunardi, click here. This is the entry for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, No. 5 in the Midwest (Indianapolis).
The key: Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell
Stat to know: 1,998
Going into last season, it was said that Gonzaga's backcourt was a question mark on a roster that featured proven frontcourt stars like Robert Sacre and Elias Harris. Sure enough, in February the Bulldogs did see their amazing streak of 11 consecutive West Coast Conference regular-season titles come to an end.
Those two facts sound as if they should be cause-and-effect. But it wasn't. The green backcourt was strong for coach Mark Few, as was the seasoned frontcourt ... and the offense and the defense. Tip your cap to Saint Mary's, who obviously had a great year (14-2) to take away the WCC title from yet another excellent Gonzaga team.