Gonzaga enters NCAA Tournament unbeaten, pursuing an enormous piece of history
Prior to 2021, only four teams have entered the men’s March Madness tournament undefeated. Larry Bird’s Indiana State team strutted into March without a loss, while the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV did too in 1991. Just this past decade, Wichita State and Kentucky have accomplished the feat. Now, the 2020-21 Gonzaga Bulldogs joined the list and will look to complete what those teams failed to do by winning the Wooden NCAA National Championship trophy.
As per expectations, the Bulldogs claimed the No. 1 overall seed on Selection Sunday and now have the biggest target on their back of any team in the field. For Mark Few’s program, a tour de force in the tournament would solidify their position as modern-day blue bloods, a door Gonzaga has been knocking on for two decades.
Gonzaga has won a school-record 30 straight games over two seasons and is the first team since Kentucky in 2015 to enter the NCAA Tournament undefeated.@jmarshallap previews the West bracket #MarchMadness https://t.co/teb82ZJ6eb
— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) March 14, 2021
Though critics of Gonzaga will point to the West Coast Conference’s relatively shallow talent pool–at least in relation to conferences like the Big Ten or the Big 12–the Bulldogs still claimed victories over four top-16 opponents in Iowa, Kansas, Virginia, and West Virginia, three of which were by double-digits.
Regardless of their strength of schedule–which Kenpom ranks as 94th in the country–not many teams can match the firepower that Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert, Jay Ayayi, and Drew Timme provide. Their West region path would feature Iowa, Virginia and Oklahoma at its most difficult.
Joining Gonzaga as top seeds in their respective regions are the Baylor Bears from the Big 12 and a pair of Big Ten teams in the Michigan Wolverines and the Illinois Fighting Illini, the latter of which won the Big Ten conference tournament.