Gonzaga listed as a two seed in ESPN's way-too-early bracket projection

Apr. 16—Gonzaga has been in the top 10 in a bunch of way-too-early college basketball preseason polls, so it makes sense the Bulldogs would be projected as a high seed in next year's NCAA Tournament.

GU checked in as a No. 2 seed in the West Region in ESPN's Joe Lunardi's first bracket projection, barely a week after UConn captured its second straight national championship.

Lunardi has the Zags facing No. 15 Oakland in the first round in Seattle, which joins Denver as opening weekend sites in the western U.S. The West Region semifinals and finals will be at the Chase Center in San Francisco.

Lunardi acknowledged that putting together a bracket so early is a "moving target" with most teams facing considerable roster turnover with the transfer portal in full swing and players deciding if they'll leave school early to enter their names in the NBA draft.

The Zags lose five-year standout forward Anton Watson, but they could potentially return the bulk of their 2023-24 rotation and roster. Pepperdine transfer Michael Ajayi has committed to Gonzaga but also entered the NBA draft while maintaining his college eligibility.

Duke is listed as the top overall seed. The Blue Devils are joined on the top seed line by Kansas (Midwest Region), Alabama (South) and Houston (West).

North Carolina, Baylor and Iowa State join Gonzaga as No. 2 seeds. UConn is a No. 3 seed in the East Region.

Arizona, guided by former Gonzaga assistant coach Tommy Lloyd, is the No. 3 seed in the West. Boise State, led by former GU assistant Leon Rice, is projected as a No. 9 seed.

Saint Mary's, which won the West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles last season, is projected as a No. 4 seed. San Francisco is the last team in as a No. 11 seed playing in the First Four, according to Lunardi.

Weber State is listed as the automatic qualifier from the Big Sky Conference.