Gonzaga was getting ready to reaching one thing we haven’t seen in a protracted, very long time: making an attempt to develop into the primary workforce in virtually 50 years to win the boys’s NCAA Match after going undefeated all season. A reasonably widespread prevalence within the Seventies with powerhouses like UCLA and Indiana, it’s since develop into almost unattainable to run the desk within the common season, not to mention carry it into the tourney and lower down the nets on the finish.
The Bulldogs began the season at 31-0, however they misplaced their bid for an ideal season within the final recreation of the 12 months. The Baylor Bears blew out the Zags, 86-70, within the nationwide championship recreation of the 2021 males’s NCAA match to make sure that Bobby Knight’s 1976 Indiana workforce stays males’s faculty basketball’s most up-to-date good workforce for an additional 12 months.
Right here’s a glance again in any respect the groups who entered the NCAA match undefeated solely to see their championship hopes fizzle when it mattered probably the most.
The sensational seven
Seven groups in NCAA historical past have performed a whole common season with out dropping a recreation, then carried it into the match and gained the championship. This hasn’t occurred since 1975-76.
These clearly symbolize a few of the best groups, with the best gamers of all time. Invoice Russell performed on the San Francisco championship workforce, UCLA had Lew Alcindor (recognized now as Kareem Abdul Jabbar) and later Invoice Walton, and the Hoosiers have been coached by the legendary Bobby Knight.
The boys’s faculty basketball groups that misplaced their good seasons
The listing of groups that dominated the common season, solely to falter within the NCAA match is much bigger. A complete of 12 groups in NCAA historical past went undefeated within the common season, then misplaced within the match.
- 1950-51 Columbia Lions
- 1960-61 Ohio State Buckeyes
- 1967-68 Houston Cougars
- 1967-68 St. Bonaventure Bonnies
- 1970-71 Marquette Eagles
- 1970-71 Pennsylvania Quakers
- 1974-75 Indiana Hoosiers
Star participant Scott Could broke his arm within the common season finale in opposition to Purdue, and whereas the remainder of workforce was adequate to prop up Indiana early within the tourney, they finally misplaced to No. 5 seed Kentucky. Within the common season Could scored 25 factors in opposition to the Wildcats, however managed to play simply two minutes within the Elite Eight.
- 1975-76 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
A Cinderella season for Rutgers noticed the Scarlet Knights go undefeated within the common season, however nonetheless not garner sufficient respect to earn a high seed. Nonetheless, the workforce valiantly fought their solution to a Ultimate 4, earlier than dropping to Michigan.
- 1990-91 UNLV Rebels
Probably the most thrilling groups in trendy basketball, UNLV, anchored by Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon ran the desk within the common season and made it to Ultimate 4 earlier than struggling a grueling two level loss to Duke.
- 2013-14 Wichita State Shockers
The Shockers have been a No. 9 seed regardless of operating the desk within the common season. The match seeding was unkind to Wichita State, who confronted Kentucky within the third spherical, finally dropping. Headlined by Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker, it ended up being Fred VanVleet who went on to expertise probably the most stardom within the NBA, now a staple of the Raptors.
- 2014-15 Kentucky Wildcats
Unquestionably probably the most loaded workforce on this listing, Kentucky boasted NINE gamers who would go on to the NBA, most notably Karl-Anthony Cities, and Devin Booker. Coming into as a No. 1 seed, Kentucky survived an in depth scare to Notre Dame, earlier than dropping to Wisconsin within the Ultimate 4.
- 2020-2021 Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Zags began 31-0 however couldn’t end the job. Baylor beat them by 16 factors within the nationwide title recreation.
Which brings us to Gonzaga
There was by no means doubt that primarily based on expertise Gonzaga had the power to make a deep run within the match and probably even win the championship. That stated, there have been various questions on how legit their common season run was. The WCC is a basically weak convention, and the Zags’ largest check was erased when their common season recreation in opposition to Baylor was cancelled attributable to Covid earlier within the season.
The match solidified what we thought we already knew about this incredible Gonzaga workforce. Drew Timme, Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs are All-People. Gonzaga gained its first 4 video games within the NCAA match match by almost 24 factors per recreation, then gained a basic within the Ultimate 4 on Suggs’ deep buzzer-beater to stun UCLA in extra time. Baylor was the most important check the workforce had, and the Bears left little doubt they have been the superior workforce.
Possibly Baylor would have been the workforce going for an undefeated season below completely different circumstances. The Bears began this season 18-0 earlier than having to pause for 3 weeks due to Covid. Baylor dropped two video games after the pause, however seemed like a heavyweight once more in March Insanity.
Gonzaga had an important shot to develop into an undefeated nationwide championship, nevertheless it wasn’t meant to be. Baylor was merely higher.