With his shoulder-length flowing locks and signature headband, Gonzaga forward Kelly Olynyk has been the mane event this season in college basketball.But there is more to the game of this transplanted Canadian (7-foot, 238 pounds) than long hair destined to be donated to charity after a postseason haircut.Olynyk, a junior, leads No. 5 Gonzaga (24-2, 11-0 West Coast Conference) in scoring (17.7 points per game) and blocked shots (25). He ranks second on the team in rebounds (6.8) and has the Bulldogs, who are coming off Thursday's 77-60 victory at Saint Mary's, positioned as a strong candidate to reach the Final Four for the first time in school history.Gonzaga, which ranks third in the coaches poll, received first-place ballots this week in both polls (two in AP, one from the coaches). In a season marked by nationwide parity, Gonzaga is tied with No. 2 Duke (22-2, 9-2 ACC) for the fewest losses of any school in Division I.A big factor has been the emergence of Olynyk, who redshirted last season -- after two middling years on campus -- to tweak his low-post game and catch up to the 7-inch growth spurt he experienced after playing guard in high school.In an interview with USA Today, Olynyk said last year's redshirt season "gave me time to build my body... and develop into the player I wanted to be."The numbers don't lie. A player who averaged 4.8 points and 12.9 minutes per game in his first two seasons suddenly is the focal point of a team with national title hopes. Olynyk leads the Zags in field-goal percentage (64.1), ranks second in free throws (79.8) and contributes on both ends of the court while playing 25.6 minutes per game.But he's best known for his long hair, which has not been cut in more than a year. If the Zags continue at their clip, he'll be known for much more than that during March Madness.Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch
Games to watch
Baylor (16-8, 7-4) at No. 10 Kansas State (19-5, 8-3) The Wildcats seek to maintain a share of first place tonight (6 p.m., ESPNU) in a crowded Big 12 race.
Texas (11-13, 3-8 in Big 12) at No. 14 Kansas (20-4, 8-3) The Longhorns threw a scare into the Jayhawks last month without point guard Myck Kabongo, who will be in the lineup tonight (8., ESPN) in a key game for KU's league title hopes.
Oklahoma (16-7, 7-4 in Big 12) at No. 17 Oklahoma State (18-5, 8-3) Today's Bedlam basketball showdown (12:30 p.m., ESPN3) will impact first place in the Big 12 standings.
3Highest career perch in the AP poll for third-ranked Miami (20-3, 11-0 in ACC), which can continue its poll climb Sunday (5 p.m., ESPNU) at Clemson (13-11, 5-7).
17Double-double statistical performances this season by Towson forward Jerrelle Brown and Bucknell forward Mike Muscala, most in the nation.
.512Shooting percentage of Belmont guard Ian Clark from 3-point range, tops in the nation.