More often than not, dropping three non-conference games against tournament-caliber competition and then coughing up a home game to an unheralded opponent douses a mid-major's NCAA Tournament dreams. Of course, most mid-majors don't load up their schedule like Gonzaga does.
Since the Zags ran their usual early-season gauntlet, ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi is still bullish on the Bulldogs' chances for the Big Dance, no matter what happens in Wednesday night's rematch with Tennessee (ESPN2, 9 ET). Lunardi believes Gonzaga could still grab an at-large bid (if necessary) and a protected seed, awarded to the tournament's top 16 teams, even if the Zags lose for the fifth time in six games.
In response to an Insider query, Lunardi ran the odds on Gonzaga's chances to snag a No. 1-4 seed, basing the model on the team's likeness to previous tourney squads. The result? The Bulldogs still have a 65 percent chance of landing in the field's top 16 teams.