The No. 1 seed bestowed upon Gonzaga means the Zags are expected to win four games over the next two weeks and progress to the Final Four of the NCAA men's basketball tournament in Atlanta.
No pressure there, considering no team from the state of Washington has gone that far since the Eisenhower administration.
And it was considerably easier back then.
Seattle University reached the title game in 1958, when Elgin Baylor earned the Most Outstanding Player award, although his Chieftains fell to Kentucky in the final game of a tournament that included 28 teams.
When Washington lost to Kansas in the 1953 national semifinals, the Huskies had to win only twice to reach the Final Four amid a field of 22.
And when Jack Friel's Washington State Cougars lost to Wisconsin in the 1941 championship game -- eight months before Pearl Harbor -- they made it to the Elite 8 just by being among the eight teams invited.
In the 14 consecutive appearances preceding this one, the Zags have never gotten past the Elite 8. But this could be the year that they break through.
Gonzaga (31-2) is not only the top-ranked team in the country, but on Sunday also collected the No. 1 seed in the West Regional and face 16-seed Southern University (23-9) Thursday at approximately 1:10 p.m. in Salt Lake City.
"We're definitely honored by the accomplishment," coach Mark Few said. "I'm glad (the selection committee) acknowledged the year these guys had."
It's the highest seed for a Washington team since the Huskies, with Brandon Roy and Nate Robinson, had the No. 1 seed in the 2005 West Region and eventually lost to fourth-seeded Louisville in the Sweet 16.
Gonzaga has had its chances over the years, but has run into powerhouse teams. Five times the Zags have lost to a No. 1 seed, and twice to the eventual national champion ('99 to Connecticut in the Elite 8, and '09 to North Carolina in the Sweet 16).
Here are some theories on what it takes to get to a Final Four, and how the top-seeded Zags stack up.
This one is obvious.
Bob Rondeau has been the voice of UW basketball since the mid-80s, and has seen the Huskies' four Sweet 16 appearances.
"The biggest thing is one that comes with a capital T -- talent," he said. "I think you find more often than not, the team with the talent wins, and a lot of times when you get to the Final Four, you can say, 'It's our (NBA) lottery picks against your lottery picks.' "
But even top-level talent isn't created equally.
Guard Matt Santangelo was instrumental in leading the Zags on their deepest run -- to the Elite 8 in 1999, when they went down to the wire against UConn in a game that would have taken them to the Final Four.
"I'm biased, so I think you need a good, tough guard," said Santangelo, who handles radio commentary for Zags games.
"But I'll take that a little bit broader; I think you need a playmaker, a guy who, when all else fails, can just take the ball and go make the play. Typically, that's a guard, and I think Gonzaga has fantastic guards, but they also have playmakers inside with Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk."
The Zags lead the nation in offensive efficiency, and share the scoring load, with seven players scoring 20 points or more in a game this season.
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