Five things to know about Saint Mary’s and its huge upset

The Mercury News–Just when it appeared March Madness wouldn’t make a stop in the Bay Area this year, Saint Mary’s went and shocked the college basketball world in Las Vegas Tuesday night.

By stunning No. 1 ranked Gonzaga 60-47 to win the West Coast Conference tournament and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, it’s time to take the Gaels seriously again.

If you’re late to this year’s dance, we’ll try to get you caught up with five things to know about the Gaels, and how they became one of the tournament’s cute underdog stories after one of the school’s biggest upsets ever.

1. Some coaches prepare their team for a big game with an inspirational speech or maybe an uplifting video. Randy Bennett chose a different tact. He made the Gaels watch their embarrassing 48-point loss to Gonzaga on Feb. 9. “(We watched) every second,” the Saint Mary’s coach told The Athletic. “I thought we kind of quit in that game and gave into them … I knew we couldn’t move forward ’til we hashed that out.”
They moved forward, alright. Using some stifling defense, the Gaels shockingly held the Zags’ highly rated offense to a season-low 47 points. The Zags, who hadn’t had an eFG% under 49% this season, were held to a 39.6 eFG% on Tuesday.

Gone was Gonzaga’s nation-best 21-game winning streak. The Zags (30-3) likely also lost a grip on a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

2. Who says what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? Consider this: Saint Mary’s, with an undergrad enrollment of 2,658 students, has already had its basketball team referenced in 2,700 media stories and 9,700 social media posts since Tuesday’s epic victory, according to Joyce Julius & Associates.

3. Saint Mary’s is back in the NCAA tournament for just the second time in six seasons and may be starting out close to home. While the official word comes during Sunday’s selection show, long-time ESPN bracket expert Joe Lunardi is projecting the Gaels to be in San Jose next week.

Lunardi has the Gaels as the 12th seed in the South Regional bracket — vs. projected fifth seed Virginia Tech (23-7) — and one of the eight teams playing at the HP Pavilion…