It shouldn't be a debate. It's just chitchat without much substance at this juncture of the season.
Does Gonzaga deserve a No. 1 seed?
Yes. That's the answer.
Thursday's 59-39 win over San Diego -- turbulent until Gonzaga pulled away in the second half -- in Spokane, Washington, wasn't the team's best work. But it was a victory.
The Bulldogs' 22nd consecutive victory.
Gonzaga has a strong case for a top seed in the NCAA tournament. Logic does not support the idea of Gonzaga as anything but a No. 1 seed. It's a simple discussion that does not demand sophistication, advanced analysis, eye tests or strength of schedule dissections. Common sense is the only thing that's required.
Gonzaga has one loss. On the road. To a top-10 Arizona squad that needed overtime to secure a victory over the Zags. If the two teams were to play on a neutral court or in Spokane, the result might change.
For the dreamers pitting Arizona against Gonzaga in a battle rap for the top seed in the West Region? Stop it.
Yes, Gonzaga's margin for error is limited. The Zags are likely the only NCAA tourney team in their league. BYU probably needs a win at Gonzaga on Saturday to earn at-large consideration for the field of 68, and Saint Mary's needs a WCC tourney title. The only certain path to a No. 1 seed for Gonzaga appears to be victories in its last two regular-season games and a WCC tourney title. Any loss to a West Coast Conference opponent could jeopardize its standing.
Gonzaga can only fall, not rise.
The Zags are 8-1 against the RPI's top 100. They're ranked third in adjusted offensive efficiency and 32nd in adjusted defensive efficiency, per Ken Pomeroy. Their strength of schedule is 89th per the RPI. The best wins on their résumé? UCLA, SMU and Georgia. Not the sexiest trio.
But Arizona has three losses to teams -- Arizona State, Oregon State and UNLV -- that won't make the NCAA tournament.
Arizona is a No. 2 seed in the West. Gonzaga is the 1 seed.
So what are we really talking about? What's the conversation?
Gonzaga deserves a No. 1 seed if it beats BYU in the season finale on Saturday and avoids a bad loss in the WCC tournament. That's just the truth.
Arizona can't escape the aroma of those three losses to subpar programs. And its victory over Gonzaga was more of an escape than a statement. That said, Sean Miller's program is a national title contender, and it's playing well right now.
Proof? Arizona's win over Colorado on Thursday was its 19th double-digit victory of the year. The Wildcats have won five in a row.
But the Arizona-Gonzaga outcome on Dec. 6 shouldn't be the epicenter of the argument that favors Arizona as a top seed.
Arizona's SOS is stronger, but do the Wildcats warrant more credit for losing to teams on the lowest tier of a stronger schedule?
Plus, Gary Bell Jr., Kevin Pangos and Byron Wesley form one of the toughest backcourts in the country. Forward Kyle Wiltjer, who averages 17 points per game, might be a first-team All-American. Przemek Karnowski is a dependable big man. Domantas Sabonis is a future pro.
This isn't some glorified pickup squad bullying a bunch of weak teams in the WCC. The Zags are elite.
Still, this is familiar. This is the time of year when Gonzaga is typically criticized -- for its schedule, its league and the limited opportunities for quality wins the latter allows. Yet, the Zags have taken what they've been given and rumbled through their entire slate. One poor stretch in Tucson is the only negative mark on their résumé.
Virginia is missing Justin Anderson, although he should be back in time for the NCAA tournament and the Cavaliers' top seed should not be affected. Duke, barring some collapse, appears to have a top seed locked up, too. Kentucky had a No. 1 slot guaranteed, it seemed, in December.
That fourth spot? That's where the controversy lingers.
Wisconsin's loss to Maryland did not completely remove it from the conversation, although the odds are against it. Villanova's only losses? On the road against Seton Hall and Georgetown. Kansas is the No. 2 squad in the RPI and can still add more quality wins in conference play and the Big 12 tourney.
Gonzaga is stuck, though. It can't really boost its résumé, only damage it. Mark Few's program must continue to win. That's Gonzaga's only method to convince the selection committee it warrants a top seed.
And if the Zags continue to do that -- the way they have all season with the exception of a funky finish in Tucson -- then Gonzaga will deserve a top seed on Selection Sunday.
If something crazy happens between now and Selection Sunday, let's talk.
Until that occurs, however, there's no reason to.