The 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is set to begin, and 68 of the best basketball teams will compete for the NCAA championship title. Annual titans Duke and Kentucky were not selected to the tournament this year, but there is still plenty of solid competition in the field. Teams like Baylor, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, and Iowa have their eyes on making it to the Final Four and the National Championship game. While anything can happen in March Madness, one team that seems like a sure lock to win it all is the top overall seed in the tournament, the Gonzaga University Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs enter the tournament looking to make history
Mark Few, the head coach for the Bulldogs, may have his eyes set on hoisting the first championship trophy for the men’s basketball team. Still, Gonzaga enters the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament with the potential to make more history. After finishing the regular season 26-0 (15-0 conference), the Bulldogs could very well become the first team in 45 years to complete a perfect undefeated season. This team has a ton of pressure on it as is, being the top overall seed and the heavy Vegas favorite going in. If there wasn’t a perfect way for Few to win his first championship before, this might be the one.
Few has managed to turn Gonzaga into a national powerhouse. The Bulldogs have been the top overall seed four times, a number two seed three times, and have reached the Sweet Sixteen four of their last five appearances. The Bulldogs are pretty much a lock to make it past the second round and make it into at least the Sweet Sixteen.
Despite entering their 21st consecutive NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs didn’t have a cakewalk schedule like most would believe them to be, being in the West Coast Conference. This season, the Zags played 6th ranked Kansas, 11th ranked West Virginia, third-ranked Iowa, 16th ranked Virginia, and the sixth seed in the Eastern region, BYU (twice). Few’s Bulldogs came away victorious in each contest, and the smallest margin of victory against a ranked opponent was a five-point victory over Iowa. This isn’t your normal Gonzaga team.
Why the Bulldogs could win the NCAA Tournament
The Bulldogs are led by the leading scorer, forward Corey Kispert, who is averaging 19.2 points per game and is shooting 44.4% from beyond the arc. Forward Drew Timme is averaging 18.7 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game, and shooting 65.6% from the field. The Bulldogs are the second-best offense in the NCAA, averaging 92.1 points per game and are only allowing 69.1 points against. With one of the best offenses in the country and a stingy defense, this team is a safe pick to make it to the Final Four and to possibly win it all.
Being the top seed in the entire field means that Gonzaga has a large target on their back. In the West region, however, Gonzaga will see some familiar faces. To start, they will play the winner of Norfolk State and Appalachian State. After that, the Zags could potentially face off against fourth-seeded Virginia, third-seeded Kansas, or second-seeded Iowa, all of whom the Bulldogs handled this season. That’s not to say the team won’t face potential upsets or road bumps. Teams like fifth-seeded Creighton and sixth-seed USC are looking to upset the big dogs of the West region and be the team that busts the brackets of many Gonzaga fans.
At the end of the day, though, this isn’t like any other Gonzaga team that we’ve seen in recent years. Few is one of the best coaches in the NCAA, and this is arguably his most talented team yet. If the Bulldogs can keep their high-powered offense going, we may see Few and the Bulldogs cutting down nets for the first time and making history as the first undefeated team in 45 years when they win the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.