- Baylor defeats Gonzaga 86-70 to win 2021 NCAA men’s basketball championship.
- The win was the first ever National title for the Bears.
- Gonzaga becomes the 12th team in NCAA history to lose their perfect season in the championship game.
Baylor stunned undefeated top seed Gonzaga 86-70 in the NCAA men’s basketball championship game on Monday, claiming the first title for the Waco, Texas school.
BREAKING: Baylor beats Gonzaga 86-70 to win its first men’s NCAA basketball championship. https://t.co/31Isxfv5BQ
— NBC News (@NBCNews) April 6, 2021
But he Bears didn’t just win their first-ever National title, they also picked up their first win over an AP no. 1 opponent. Prior to Monday, Baylor was 0-8 all-time against such teams. They also never trailed in the title game, making them the first team since UConn in 2014 to lead from start to finish en route to wining the NCAA men’s basketball championship.
Baylor also became the fifth team all-time to win their two Final Four games by at least 15 points each, joining the elite company of the 1952 Kansas Jayhawks, 1960 Ohio State Buckeyes, 1968 UCLA Bruins, and the 2018 Villanova Wildcats. The Bears are also the third team since seeding began in the NCAA tournament in 1979 to win the National title without any McDonald’s All-American. The other teams to accomplish the feat were Maryland in 2002 and UConn in 2014.
Gone Zag Uh
— Gonzaga University (@GonzagaU) September 20, 2018
To be fair, the 2020-21 Gonzaga Bulldogs will rank as one of the best teams in the history of NCAA men’s basketball. Including the previous season, the Zags went on a 35 game winning streak, which is tied for the 10th longest winning streak in NCAA history. 29 out of their 31 wins this season were by double digits, and they won 27 consecutive games by double figures.
They got their first scare in the Final Four when 11th seeded UCLA took them to an overtime period and nearly sent it to a second overtime. Freshman Jalen Suggs then hit the buzzer beater that will be remembered forever to help the Zags escape with a 93-90 win put them within one victory of the first perfect season since Indiana in 1975. But it was not meant to be.
Suggs missed his first attempt of the championship game, a three-pointer, and then was called for an offensive foul on his next play. Baylor raced to a 9-0 lead and never looked back. With Suggs on the bench with foul trouble, the Bears took a 19-point first half lead, the largest deficit Gonzaga has faced this season. The Zags tried to cut into the lead several times but the night belonged to Bears head coach Scott Drew who transformed a troubled program into a champion after two decades.
Dream Come True
“Scott Drew’s dream comes true.” pic.twitter.com/98wU5CpI2A
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 6, 2021
When Scott Drew signed to coach Baylor in 2003, he had the most difficult rebuild job in college basketball history. Baylor player Carlton Dotson was charged with murdering teammate Patrick Dennehy. Then former head coach Dave Bliss was caught on tape telling his players to portray Dennehy as a drug dealer to conceal illegal payments and other league violations committed by the program.
Before Drew’s third season as head coach, the NBA punished the school by disallowing it to play non-conference games. Drew held tryouts simply to fill his team’s roster that year and they finished the season with a 4-13 record. After the challenging years, the Bears made quick progress. They made the Elite Eight in 2010 and 2012, and also the Sweet 16 in 2014 and 2017. They were on their way to being the top seed last season when COVID-19 halted sports. However, there was no denying them this year.
The Bears entered Monday’s title game as the betting underdogs in the best NCAA betting sites. That was however, the first time all-season that they were betting underdogs. But they looked like the favorites on Monday night, playing with the hunger and defensive intensity of a champion.