(Part-1) Gonzaga's 24-game NCAA tournament streak threatened

Gonzaga's defeat against unranked Santa Clara last Thursday night dropped them out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in seven years.It threatened another crucial streak.

Gonzaga has been an NCAA tournament mainstay since Dan Monson led them to an improbable Elite Eight run in 1999. Assistant coach Mark Few led Gonzaga to the NCAA tournament every season after Monson left for Minnesota that offseason.

Early Gonzaga Cinderella campaigns relied on underdog recruitment. The Zags improved with elite international talent and transfers. Over the previous decade, Gonzaga has had eight straight Sweet 16 trips including the 2017 and 2021 national titles after acquiring McDonald's All-Americans.

Third-longest NCAA tournament streak in college basketball is 24, behind Kansas (33) and Michigan State (25). No NCAA Division I team has played more than eight tournaments. Duke, Kentucky, and North Carolina missed March Madness four years ago.

Gonzaga looks like a bubble team at 11-5 and 2-1 in the WCC. Zags are outside the 68 in some huge mock tournaments. Even optimistic estimates have Gonzaga at No. 9.This is concerning: Gonzaga is 0-4 in Quadrant 1 games entering the second half of January. Zags beat Syracuse (11-5), USC (8-9) and UCLA (7-10) despite not being in the NCAA's top 75 NET rankings.

Gonzaga worries about the WCC's lack of victories. Saint Mary's (13-6) started badly and hasn't recovered. San Francisco (14-4) has top-50 finishes in most categories but no resume-boosting wins. Gonzaga's best opportunity is a Feb. 10 non-league game against No. 8 Kentucky.

Gonzaga may need a Rupp Arena win or near-perfect WCC record to receive an at-large NCAA berth in March. The WCC tournament must be won for their 25th straight NCAA berth.How did Gonzaga bubble after 30+ wins? Why is Gonzaga having a terrible season after 25 years of consistency?

They lost talent to UConn in the Elite Eight last March, ending their national title hopes. Drew Timme, a multi-time All-American, turned pro with a mustache, headband, and post moves So did star forward Julian Strawther. Two years previously, top-five NBA draft picks Jalen Suggs and Chet Holmgren exited.

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