How to judge which teams are really good, and which teams have an edge


ESPN Crave’s Luke Gagliardi has a good piece on what he calls the “superpower” of Gonzaga basketball, which is in the midst of a remarkable run that includes two NCAA Tournament berths and a national championship berth.

The Bluejays have gone 32-1 in the past five seasons, and Gaglia notes that it’s a stretch to consider them a top-five team, given the talent level in the country and the number of teams playing at the same level.

But this year, they are.

In fact, the Bluejets are the only team in the nation with a winning percentage of .600 or better, and they are also just one game behind the second-ranked Kentucky Wildcats.

(Here are the top five teams in our latest rankings.)

In fact: “Gonzaga has been among the best teams in the land for a few years,” Gaglio says.

“There’s no question about it.”

(The only other team to reach that level?

Kentucky, which has a .542 winning percentage and has won nine of its last 10.)

The Bluejackets have been a consistent top-25 team for a while now, but Gagol says there is “no doubt” that Gonzaga is one of the best basketball programs in the world right now.

And, for good reason.

“Gunnar [Gonzalez] and his staff are phenomenal,” Gagni says.

Gonzaga has gone 32 in the last five seasons.

They’ve won eight Pac-12 titles and four NCAA tournaments.

And they’ve won 12 games or more in each of the last three seasons.

“This team is going to win at least 10 games,” Gago says.

In other words, they’re a team that can win.

“When they play well,” Gagglia says, “they’re going to get it done.”

For example, Gonzaga ranks No. 9 in the latest recruiting rankings and No. 6 in the ESPN recruiting rankings, as the top-ranked player nationally.

That’s right, Gonzasports team is No. 1 in the recruiting rankings of ESPN, and it’s not just because Gonzaga can’t get the ball out of its hands and score.

“The best thing you can do is score,” Gonzaga coach Lon Kruger said at the Adidas Invitational, where the Bluejackers played this past weekend.

“That’s the biggest thing.

That means you’re going in with an intention to win.

If you don’t, you’re not going in.”

The Bluejeres have gone 12-1 this season, and Kruger, the former Gonzaga standout, has a lot of confidence in the players he’s bringing on board.

“I think the guys that we brought in have been terrific,” Kruger says.

And if he can get the right mix of talent to play at the right level, Kruger knows he’ll have the best chance to win games.

“It’s a different environment, but I know they’re going through it,” he says.

Kruger is no stranger to recruiting.

He’s coached at the high school level in Louisiana, the Division I level at Kentucky and the Colonial Athletic Association level at Georgia.

And he’s done well at both, leading Kentucky to a NCAA Tournament berth in 2009 and a top five finish in 2010-11.

But he’s also worked his way up through the ranks, and he’s now taking a team like Gonzaga on a journey.

“They’re a lot more experienced than most people think,” Krugers says.

So he knows they’ll be prepared to play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years, and there are no signs that the team will have an easy time.

“We know they’ve got to be better,” he adds.

And Kruger’s been confident in the ability of the players in the program, including freshman forward Mike McAdoo.

“Mike is an unbelievable athlete, and I know he’s going to have an incredible year,” Kruges says.

The only question is when that will happen.

“For us, that’s the question.

It’s an opportunity for us to get better,” Krugs says.

(Gaggliardi notes that Kruger has “no hesitation in saying that his team is a top 10 team.”)

But the Bluejeers are not alone.

“In some ways, it’s like a Cinderella story,” Krug says.

This team is one that can do whatever it takes to get to that level, and this team has every intention of being a force in the next couple years.

“If we get to the tournament, we’ll be ready to go,” Krugg says.

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