The Gonzaga Bulldogs released their schedule for the 2021-22 season and its littered with landmines that will almost certainly result in stutters along the way.
Gonzaga was a perfect 31-0 before eventually losing to Baylor in the national championship game 86-70 in 2020-21.
The Zags lost several key figures from last years squad including Jalen Suggs who was selected No.5 overall in the NBA draft by Orlando followed by Corey Kispert being selected No.15 overall by Washington. Joel Ayayi went undrafted but was signed by the Los Angeles Lakers and the Zags also lost back up guard Aaron Cook who was a key figure off the bench to Georgia via transfer.
However, there is a little reason for panic at Gonzaga even after losing some of the best players in school history because Mark Few managed to bring in two McDonald’s All-American’s including the No.1 rated recruit in the country Chet Holmgren. The 7-footer attended the same high school in Minnesota as Suggs and is a projected NBA lottery pick. The second McDonald’s All-American Few added is Hunter Sallis a 6-foot-5 guard from Omaha, Nebraska.
Gonzaga also brings in key transfer Rasir Bolton from Iowa State who was named Third-Team All Big 12 in 2020-21. He is a 6-foot-3 guard who averaged 15.5 points per game last year which ranked No.7 in the Big 12.
Gonzaga also return potential NBA draft picks Andrew Nembhard and Drew Timme who should be in the mix for National Player of the Year.
In spite of all that talent, don’t expect Gonzaga to go undefeated during the regular season once again.
Here are some of the key matchups where Gonzaga could pick up a loss during the regular season in 2021-22:
Nov 13 vs Texas (at home). Chris Beard takes over for the Longhorns and immediately landed two of the best transfers available including Marcus Carr (19.4 PPG for Minnesota last year) and Tre Mitchell (18.8 PPG for UMass in 2020-21).
Nov 23 vs UCLA (in Las Vegas). It took a half-court buzzer beater by Jalen Suggs to escape UCLA in the Final Four. Johnny Juzang is back and will be looking for redemption against the Zags.
Nov 26 vs Duke (in Las Vegas). Playing Duke during Coach K’s swan song season isn’t going to be easy for anyone.
Dec 4 vs Alabama (in Seattle). Nate Oats has built Bama into one of the most dangerous teams in the country. Jaden Shackelford (14 PPG) returns along with incoming 5-star freshman Charles Bediako who turned down Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State and more to go to Bama.
Dec 18 vs Texas Tech (in Phoenix). Tech has been one of the better Big 12 teams over the past five years and are capable of beating anyone. Added Oral Roberts transfer Kevin Obanor to a loaded line up.
Gonzaga will certainly be in the conversation for the national championship in 2022; just don’t expect an undefeated regular season.