Drew Timme hoists the net after downing Saint Mary's in the WCC Championship game last Tuesday.

The Gonzaga University men’s basketball team earned the No. 3 seed in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament and faces the No. 14 Grand Canyon Antelopes in the opening round.

The Zags (28-5, 14-2) will travel to Denver for the opening two rounds of the tournament. If they win, they’ll face No. 6 TCU or the winner of the First Four game between No. 11 Arizona State and Nevada.

“[No. 3 seed] is something we’ll try and take advantage of. Obviously they seed these things for a reason, so theoretically you end up playing a much more difficult opponent, especially in the opening round,” said GU head coach Mark Few. “Once you get into this thing, everyone’s earned their way in some way, shape or form. It’s always going to be a really difficult game.”

GU assistant coach Roger Powell Jr. is familiar with GCU. Powell was a member of Antelopes’ head coach Bryce Drew’s staff at Vanderbilt University before coming to Spokane.

Defending National Champion Kansas earned the No. 1 seed in the West Region and UCLA earned the two seed. The Bruins were battered in the PAC-12 tournament, losing to Arizona in the title game and losing National Defensive Player of the Year candidate Jaylen Clark to an achilles injury earlier in the tournament.

The Zags waited five days since defeating Saint Mary’s 77-51 in the WCC Championship game to hear their name called on Selection Sunday. The extra preparation time compared to power six leagues that wrapped up conference tournaments in the last two days could give the Zags an additional preparation advantage ahead of the First Round.

“We’ve had chances to work on ourselves and practice and watch our own film,” said Naismith Award semifinalist Drew Timme. “The past couple of days we’ve played against each other and working on things we’re not happy with. Getting to work on those is a huge advantage.”

West Coast Conference rival Saint Mary’s earned the No. 5 seed in the West, setting up a potential fourth and final season meeting in the Sweet 16. The Gaels face No. 12 VCU – the winner of the Atlantic 10 – in the opening round.

With a full 68-team bracket selected, the Zags’ non-conference schedule becomes one of the toughest in school history.

The Zags played No. 1 Purdue and Alabama, No. 2 Texas, No. 3 Xavier and Baylor, No. 4 Tennessee (scrimmage), No. 5 Saint Mary’s, No. 6 Kentucky, No. 7 Michigan State and No. 14 Kent State, posting a 7-5 record overall.

The Zags tip against Grand Canyon at 4:35 PST on TruTV on Friday, March 17.

Tommy Conmy is a sports editor. Follow him on Twitter: @tommyconmy.

Sports Editor

Tommy Conmy is a senior from Fargo, North Dakota and is in his first semester as sports editor after being a staff writer the past three semesters.