Gonzaga isn’t just the best team in the country. It’s one of the best teams of the past decade. But the NCAA Tournament triggers chaos. It is the most exciting event in sports because it is the most unpredictable. It has led to 12 of the past 15 top overall seeds — including the past six — failing to win it all. It has resulted in the past four undefeated teams entering the tournament falling short of matching 1976 Indiana’s perfect season.
While Gonzaga faces the pressure of making history, claiming its first national championship and the memory of multiple premature exits from the NCAA Tournament, fellow 1-seed Baylor no longer is discussed as the Zags’ biggest threat. The Bears’ 18-0 start has been overshadowed by two recent losses — following a three-week COVID pause — and Illinois’ recent rampage through the Big Ten.
But Baylor has a favorable draw, and will have time to play its way back into early-season form. The best 3-point shooting team in the nation has too many weapons to have too many cold stretches. The once-formidable defense will return with additional time to prepare.
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Gonzaga wouldn’t be undefeated if it played in the Big 12 — one of the two best conferences in college basketball — and Baylor will end up better off for playing the tougher schedule. When the two best teams in the country meet for the national championship, Baylor will have the benefit of playing an opponent facing more pressure than any title game participant in decades.
The Bears will be champions. It should be no surprise.