Gonzaga's countdown to perfection has ticked to two.
The Bulldogs are back in the Final Four, two wins from becoming the first undefeated team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.
And, after all those upsets, the March Madness apex in the Hoosier State will be a high-seeded affair.
Gonzaga is a No. 1 seed. So is Baylor. Houston, a 2. UCLA is an 11, but it's also the all-time leader in national championships.
There also will be a trip down Southwest Conference memory lane.
But the Zags will be the team to beat.
Gonzaga (30-0) has been an offensive juggernaut rarely seen in college basketball. Fast moving and free flowing, the ultra-efficient Zags have steamrolled everyone in their way, winning a Division I-record 27 straight games by double digits.
An 85-56 dismantling of Southern California in the Elite Eight stretched their win streak to 34 games over two seasons and put them back in the Final Four for the second time in the past four NCAA Tournaments. Gonzaga came up short in a loss to North Carolina in the 2017 national title game, but has its sights set on finishing it off this time — and grabbing a piece of history.
“Everyone wants us to keep moving forward, but that’s not how we roll,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “This is a heck of an accomplishment. We’re going to take it and savor it for what it is. That doesn’t lessen our desire to win this game, the next game or win two more games.”
For the 30th straight time this season, Gonzaga answered that question with a resounding “No.”
The Bulldogs got on a roll and put on a show, cruising into the Final Four with an 85-66 beatdown of a Southern California team that was nowhere near ready for what it ran into Tuesday night.
Drew Timme had 23 points and five rebounds and, after one dunk, pretended to slick down his handlebar mustache for the few thousand fans in the stands.
“This is a really, really big deal,” coach Mark Few said of the program's return to the Final Four after a four-year hiatus. “And Zags know how to celebrate, OK?”
The top-seeded and top-ranked Bulldogs will be the third team to bring an undefeated record into the Final Four since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The last team to go undefeated was Indiana in 1976. On Saturday in the national semifinals, the Zags will face the winner of a later Elite Eight matchup between UCLA and Michigan.
Official Bert Smith collapsed on the floor early in the Elite Eight game between Gonzaga and Southern California and had to be taken off the court on a stretcher.
Smith had just set up on the baseline as the Trojans were moving onto offense when he collapsed and hit his head on the floor.
He stayed down for about five minutes, and then was able to stand up and move to a nearby stretcher. He was alert and sitting up with his arms crossed as he was taken off the court.
In a statement, NCAA spokesman David Worlock said Smith is "alert and stable," and won't be transported to a hospital. Worlock also said Smith has been in contact with his family.
Worlock's statement didn't specifically state the nature of Smith's "medical issue," though CBS Sports rules analyst Gene Steratore said on the TBS broadcast that Smith was feeling "lightheaded," leading to the fall. He said Smith was being treated by trainers in the locker room.
Smith was officiating his second Elite Eight. He was replaced by an alternate, Tony Henderson, who had been at the scorer's table. Additionally, Tony Chiazza — the standby official for the UCLA-Michigan game later Tuesday — would also serve as the standby official for the remainder of the USC-Gonzaga game, Worlock said.
The matchup was the 70th game Smith has worked this season, according to kenpom.com. He has officiated in multiple conferences.