It has been well documented that since the McCarthey Athletic Center opened in 2004, the Bulldogs have been nearly unbeatable at home. In the six seasons they have played there, they have lost three times. K2 is a very happy place for Zag fans. There are a lot of other good basketball programs with great homecourts that have not duplicated Gonzaga's success at home.
Taking a look at Gonzaga's schedule reveals a secret to their home success. In six years, the Zags have played three teams that finished the season with a higher Ken Pomeroy ranking:
- #33 Gonzaga beat #15 Washington in 2005
- #41 Gonzaga beat #29 Saint Joseph's in 2006
- #30 Gonzaga lost to #10 Washington State in 2008
That's it. Gonzaga has been the better team (according to Ken Pomeroy ratings) in every other game ever played at K2. The only game that was close to evenly matched was when #55 Gonzaga defeated #57 Washington in 2007. St. Mary's has had the most competitive WCC teams in this time, posting rankings of 51 and 56 in the last two years. Gonzaga was 30 and 7 in those years respectively. Outside of that, WCC teams generally top out around the 100s and bottom out around the 330s.
On top of the conference schedule, Gonzaga's November home games are usually similar to those that have given the Cougar basketball team a 37-0 all time November Friel Court record. The Zags have not been tested much in their time at McCarthey Athletic Center, and they have a record to show it.
Now this is not meant to detract from what the Zags have done over the past six years. They have dominated the West Coast Conference like no other team has dominated a conference in a long time. From 2004-2009 they lost only six regular season conference games overall.. They have had the significantly better team because Mark Few has recruited "high-major" talent to a "mid-major" school.
What this is meant to do is to play down the myth that Gonzaga is somehow unbeatable at home because of a unique advantage that McCarthey Athletic Center provides. Sure, the students there are loud and right on top of the floor, but that can be seen on many campuses across the country. Gonzaga has played better at home, like most teams do. They just have not played as the underdog at K2 very often. The homecourt advantage is less about the arena and more about the team that plays there.
Now what does this mean for the Cougars? Well, they are still an underdog coming in, and it would a good bet to say that Gonzaga will finish the season with a higher Pomeroy ranking. However, they do bring something in to the Kennel that Zag fans rarely see, a solid group of high-major caliber players to match their own. Guys like DeAngelo Casto, Reggie Moore, and Klay Thompson.