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Kyle Wiltjer scored 29 points against San Francisco, February 7, 2015, courtesy of Gonzaga University
Ralph Teller

Gonzaga Basketball 2015 National Championship Opportunity

Ralph Teller

The Gonzaga Men's Basketball team, now 24-1 and ranked No. 2 in both major polls, has a real chance to win the 2015 NCAA National Championship title as Coach Mark Fews has a assembled a highly skilled, balanced, motivated and deep team.

Although sometimes luck in the bounce of the ball plays a role as the national championship games unfold, here are some the factors favoring Gonzaga's effort to not only advance to the Final Four, but to win the Championship! These factors include:

High Shooting Percentage. Gonzaga leads the nation in shooting percentage. After Gonzaga shot an incredible 69% at its February 5 game at Santa Clara, the team's season shooting percentage slightly increased to 53.3%. That is the highest team shooting percentage of any NCAA Division I team since the 1991-92 Duke National Championship team.

This high team shooting percentage is rooted not only in highly skilled shooting capabilities of many of the players, but in the collective team patience to choose to shoot high percentage shots.

Experience, Depth and Balance. Gonzaga has one of the nation's best and experienced backcourt lead by seniors Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos. Gonzaga has 3 big men in Kyle Wiltjer (Junior), Przemek Karnowski (7-1 288-pound Junior) and, from off the bench, Domantas Sabonis (Freshman). USC transfer Byron Wesley (Senior) was the leading scorer for the Trojans. Wesley adds power Kyle Dranginis (6-5 204-pound Junior) is a steady shooting guard off the bench.

Teamwork and belief. Gonzaga emphasizes unselfish play and team work. With team focus as the foundation, individual efforts are enhanced. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The team believes it can compete and win against any team in the country, especially after its close overtime loss at Arizona in one of the most hostile venues in the country.

Kevin Pangos. Kevin Pangos is a 6-2, 182-pound guard with a 12.1 PPG and a 4.8 APG. He is considered one of the best guards in the country. Recently, Pangos set the school record for the most 3 point shooting. Pangos made the top 25 Wooden Watch.

Kyle Wiltjer. Kyle Wiltjer is a 6-foot-10, 239-pound power forward/center who transferred from the Kentucky team that won the 2012 National Championship. After redshirting last season to focus on building his strength and finesse, Wiltjer is Gonzaga's leading scorer averaging 16.4 PPG and 5.4 RPG. Kyle Wiltjer is considered in the top ten Wooden Watch.

Domantas Sabonis. Son of NBA legend Arvydas Sabonis, Domanta Sabonis, off the bench is averaging 10 PPG and 7.2 RPG. His .704 FG% is one of highest shooting percentages in the country.

Mark Few. Mark Few has developed an elite basketball program at Gonzaga after taking the Bulldogs to 16 consecutive NCAA tournaments. Few has one of the best records amongst NCAA coaches and is considered to be on of the future elite coaches.

No. 1 Seed. Based on the teams current records, the bracketologists place Gonzaga as a tournament No. 1 seed. Gonzaga is in a battle with Kentucky, Virginia, Duke, Wisconsin, Arizona, Villanova, and Kansas for one of the four No. 1 tournament seeds. The Bulldogs have a chance for a No. 1 seed.

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