The Gonzaga basketball dynasty continued its freight train-like run through the West Coast Conference on Monday night with a 75-63 win over St. Mary's in the WCC Tournament finals. The win ensures Gonzaga its 13th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, coming by way of the WCC's automatic bid into the tournament. In a down year, where the Zags struggled early and barely squeaked out the WCC regular season title, sharing the honors with St. Mary's, the automatic bid may have been the Bulldogs only way into the field of 68.
The Bulldogs reign of terror over the conference has spanned the entire last decade. The last time Gonzaga didn't bring home the regular season title was 2000, a year they took home the tournament championship and the conference's auto-bid. After making its first March Madness appearance in 1995, Gonzaga has run off an impressive streak, making the NCAA tournament every year since 1999. The streak includes five Sweet Sixteen appearances and a spot in the Elite Eight once, in 1999.
The Bulldogs have been remarkably consistent, even if the WCC isn't on the same level as the NCAA's power conferences. The depth of talent it takes to rise above the rest, year in and year out, cannot be understated, a testament to the recruiting efforts of head coach Mark Few. From Cinderella to a major player on the national scene, Gonzaga has built itself an empire, staying just ahead of the pack in the WCC.
On Selection Sunday, the Bulldogs won't have to anxiously wait, hoping their name gets call, after winning the WCC Tournament on Monday. In a year where Gonzaga wasn't its usual, dominant self, the Bulldogs found a way to get it done, and will be dancing in March again.