Gonzaga and Baylor have been widely regarded as the top two college basketball teams this season. It seems fitting that the Bulldogs and Bears will battle it out for the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship on Monday night.
Not too long ago, an NCAA Tournament matchup pitting the most decorated program in college basketball history against a team from the sans-football, small-budget West Coast Conference would be deemed a Cinderella vs. a juggernaut.
To be fair, that's still the case in 2021 — however, it's perennial WCC powerhouse Gonzaga with its five straight 30-plus-win seasons and an undefeated record coming in as the heavy favorite against a UCLA team that needed a rally in the First Four just to get into the field of 64.
UNLV in 1991 couldn't do it; neither could Kentucky in 2015. Gonzaga now finds itself just four wins shy of becoming college basketball's first undefeated national champion since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers, and the Zags' pursuit of history takes its next step against a tough Creighton team.
The madness in March heats up in the Round of 32 with overall top seed Gonzaga taking the court against No. 8 seed Oklahoma in West Region play on Monday. The Bulldogs cruised to their 27th win of the season, downing Norfolk State 98-55 on Saturday, but may not get as easy of a go facing an Oklahoma squad that has already squared off against 12 top-25 teams this season. The Sooners dropped No. 9 seed Missouri 72-68 in their NCAA Tournament opener and now seek to give Gonzaga their one-way ticket back to Spokane.
The history of sports is both vast and rich, thanks to the existence of so many different ones and the longevity associated with them. With so much history to cull through, Athlon Sports wanted to offer the opportunity to look back and see what memorable things happened or milestones were reached on a specific date.
With that in mind, June 19 is the day in which two sports began and Isiah Thomas and LeBron James gave legendary NBA Finals performances.
Corey Kispert was a tad lonely during the offseason. Gonzaga’s junior wing at times was one of the only players on campus as a trio of Zags entered the NBA Draft process, three key seniors from last season moved on and six incoming freshmen had yet to arrive in Spokane, save for incoming forward Anton Watson from nearby Gonzaga Prep.
A showdown of two No. 1s determines the West Regional's bid to the 2019 Final Four, as the top-ranked Texas Tech defense faces the nation's best offense in Gonzaga.
The third-seeded Red Raiders and top seed Bulldogs advanced to Saturday's Elite Eight at Honda Center with double-digit-point margins of victory in the Sweet 16, but the nature of their victories differed dramatically. Gonzaga used a balanced offense to overcome Florida State's length and defensive prowess, ultimately pulling away from a four-point deficit late in the game.
The unofficial theme of the 2019 West Regional at Honda Center in Anaheim? Goin' Back to Cali.
A year ago, Sweet 16 participants Florida State, Gonzaga and Michigan played in Los Angeles for the right to advance to the Final Four. The same three are back in Southern California, not far down the freeway in Anaheim. For Florida State and Gonzaga in particular, Thursday's matchup is a case of deja vu. The two played in last year's Sweet 16, with Florida State surprisingly dominant in a 75-60 win.
The offseason was good to Gonzaga, which has won a staggering 69 games over the last two seasons. First, rising junior forwards Rui Hachimura and Killian Tillie opted to return to school, and then — in July — coveted North Dakota grad transfer Geno Crandall signed with the Zags.
Expectations will be even higher than usual. Gonzaga could eclipse the 2006 team, ranked No. 8, for the program’s highest rating in the AP preseason poll.