It's never too early to take a look at which teams may cut down the nets in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, and SB Nation's Andy Hutchins did just that, putting together an early set of college basketball rankings. It's a mix of expected contenders -- the Kentucky Wildcats, North Carolina Tar Heels and Ohio State Buckeyes are there -- and sleepers, including one of our own Northwest teams. No, it's not the Washington Huskies, who lose Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Justin Holiday, Venoy Overton and NBA Draft bound junior Isaiah Thomas. Instead, it's a team from Eastern Washington nudging its way into the top-10.â†µ
The Gonzaga Bulldogs made SB Nation's early top-10, propelled into the rankings by a core of returning starters. With only Steven Gray gone, Hutchins thinks Gonzaga could be a strong contender next seasonâ†µ
The only departure from Spokane is strong shooter Steven Gray. But between seniors-to-be Robert Sacre, Demetri Goodson and Marquis Carter, the Bulldogs have experience to burn, and if Elias Harris can finally put everything together, Gonzaga may have one of the nation's most inimitable talentsâ†µ
It's surprising to see Gonzaga that high, especially after a season of various disappointments. It remains to be seen if Gonzaga can rise to the levels Hutchins predicted in his rankings, but Gonzaga may just be the best team in the state next season.