No controversy here. Top-ranked Gonzaga is a No. 1 seed for the first time in school history.
The Bulldogs (31-2) were the top seed in the West Region when the brackets for the NCAA tournament were released on Sunday. The Bulldogs will open the tournament on Thursday in Salt Lake City against No. 16 seed Southern (23-9) in the second round.
Earning a No. 1 seed adds another first in a season of new accomplishments for Gonzaga. They enter the tournament with 31 wins, the most in school history. The No. 1 ranking in the AP poll was another first for the Bulldogs and they now have a paved path to the Final Four where they don't have to leave the West Coast.
Other teams headed to EnergySolutions Arena for second and third round games are No. 3 New Mexico (29-5) vs. No. 14 Harvard (19-9), No. 6 Arizona (25-7), one of five Pac-12 teams to qualify for the tournament, vs. No. 11 Belmont (26-6), and No. 8 Pittsburgh Panthers (24-8) taking on No. 9 Wichita State (26-8).
There was debate about whether Gonzaga's resume was worthy of a No. 1 seed, but the Bulldogs enter the tournament having won 14 straight games.
"In our judgment that's a very complete and very strong basketball team," NCAA tournament committee chair Mike Bobinski said after the brackets were announced.
This will be the 15th straight NCAA appearance for the Bulldogs, but for the first time since 2006 when Adam Morrison was in consideration for being the national player of the year, they will go in as a huge favorite and not with the tag of being plucky upstarts. The 15th straight tournament appearance trails only Kansas, Duke and Michigan State for active current streaks.
"This group has really dealt with expectations in a remarkable way," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said before the brackets were released.
Gonzaga previously was a No. 2 seed in 2004 and a No. 3 seed in 2005 and 2006 and in none of those three appearances did the Bulldogs match what they accomplished in 1999 when they made their only regional final as a No. 10 seed. In 2004 and 2006, the Bulldogs were bounced in the round of 32 and they have not made the round of 16 since 2006.
The difference this time is the roster that Few has put together, with balance, depth and experience across the board. Seven-foot center Kelly Olynyk has developed into an All-America candidate, thanks to his 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game after redshirting a year ago. Elias Harris and Kevin Pangos both averaged in double-figure scoring for the season, and the Bulldogs have a rotation of between eight and 10 players deep depending on the situation.
Since their rise to prominence, the Zags have always played a brutal nonconference schedule to try to build a resume for March. This year was no different.
In a scheduling quirk, they played five teams from the Big 12 -- West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State -- and beat them all. They also beat Clemson of the ACC and Washington State of the Pac-12, plus a bunch of opponents from lesser leagues. The result was that Gonzaga ranked No. 6 in the RPI earlier this week -- behind Duke, New Mexico, Louisville, Miami and Indiana -- but only 72nd in strength of schedule among 347 teams.
Gonzaga was 8-2 this season in games against teams that made the tournament.
Should Gonzaga get past Southern -- who the Bulldogs beat 117-72 in 2010 in Spokane -- they would face either Pittsburgh or Wichita State in the third-round.