HBO Sports is best known for its popular “Hard Knocks” reality series that gives viewers an inside look at the training camp of a different NFL team every summer.
But in February, the Gonzaga men’s basketball squad will become the first collegiate sports team to get its own HBO Sports reality series when the network airs an unscripted five-episode series called “Gonzaga: The March to Madness” which follows the Bulldogs through the 2015-16 season.
The first half-hour episode of the miniseries will air Feb. 16 at 10 p.m., with new episodes in that time slot weekly until the finale on March 15 — the first day of the NCAA tournament.
The story picks up in November 2015, and follows the Zags through the season, culminating with the NCAA tournament.
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According to a news release from HBO, the series “features exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, offering a unique look at the personalities behind the powerhouse program, and revealing how a small college in Spokane has achieved success against all odds, capturing the hearts of America each March.”
The TV crew had the full cooperation of the Gonzaga program.
“Coaches, players and staff have enjoyed the process so far and look forward to the rest of the season,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said in the release. “This is a great product that will give our fans a first-class look at our program.”
HBO Sports teamed up with IMG’s Original Content unit to produce the series. Filmmakers were intrigued by the Zags because of their background as college basketball’s perennial Cinderella story.
Few has led Gonzaga to 16 straight NCAA tournaments, and the Zags finished last season with a program-best 35-3 record. They’ve struggled this season after the loss of center Przemek Karnowski, who had back surgery Dec. 31 and is out for the season, and some inconsistent early guard play. Still, after beating Portland 85-74 last Saturday, the Bulldogs (13-3 overall, 5-0 West Coast Conference) are alone first place in the WCC. Gonzaga is ranked No. 25 in this week’s Associated Press poll.
“Gonzaga University has built a tremendous program, but so many of its accomplishments and back stories are largely unknown,” HBO Sports Executive Producer Rick Bernstein said in the release. “We’re always looking for fascinating stories that will appeal to our subscribers, and this project will shine a spotlight on one of the most successful basketball programs in America.”