Can Gonzaga Complete a Perfect Season with a National Championship?

Can Gonzaga Complete a Perfect Season with a National Championship

Gonzaga won the West Coast Conference tournament championship with another win over BYU to finish the regular season 26-0. Then, the Bulldogs won their first two NCAA tournament games rather handily to advance to another Sweet Sixteen.

National Championship Odds to Win: Gonzaga +140 at MyBookie 

With four more victories, head coach Mark Few and his program can move into some pretty elite company.

There have been just seven teams that have finished a season with an unbeaten record and a national title. The feat is so rare it hasn’t been done since the 1975-76 season.

It as Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers that capped off a perfect 32-0 season with a national championship victory over Michigan. History says that the odds are against Gonzaga, but can Few’s team really pull it off?

The First Dynasty

In looking at Gonzaga’s chances of ending the season with an unbeaten record and an NCAA title, it helps to take a look back at history. In 1955-56, the NCAA tournament had just 25 teams. One team featured a tall, lanky center named Bill Russell. That was the San Francisco Dons, college basketball’s first dynasty.

In the 1956 tourney, Russell was outstanding and led the Dons to the championship game against Iowa. The future college basketball and NBA Hall of Famer would score 26 points and grab 27 rebounds to lead San Francisco to a perfect 25-0 record and a national championship. It was the program’s 55th straight victory.

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The Next Dynasty

As mentioned, a perfect season capped by a national championship has only occurred seven times since the NCAA tournament began back in 1939. Those seven occurrences belong to only four teams. San Francisco was the first and Indiana was the last. In between, North Carolina did it once and UCLA did it a remarkable four times.

It was legendary head coach John Wooden who led UCLA to ten national championships in a 12-year stretch from 1964 to 1975. That included seven straight titles from 1967 to 1973. In four of those championship seasons, the Bruins went 30-0 (1963-64, 1966-67, 1971-72, and 1972-73). The great Bill Walton led the final two unbeaten national championship teams during a stretch when UCLA set an NCAA record with 88 wins in a row.

The Unbeaten Loser

What is actually more common in NCAA tournament history is the unbeaten loser. There have 19 times that a team entered the NCAA tourney undefeated. Seven of those 19 times resulted in a perfect season. The other 12 teams lost their first game of the season in the tournament. Some of the more memorable defeats happened in the Final Four.

The Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV won the 1990 national championship and were 34-0 when they faced Duke in a national semifinal. It was pretty much the same Duke team UNLV had demolished in the previous year’s final. Duke won 79-77.

In 2014-15, Kentucky began its season with 38 straight wins. The Wildcats would win their first four tournament games to advance to the Final Four. They lost to Wisconsin 71-64 in the semifinals.

Probably the most well-known first-loss in the NCAA tourney came in 1979. The NCAA final pit Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Michigan State against Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores. Indiana State was 33-0 heading into the final but Johnson and company won 75-64 ending Bird’s perfect season.

It was only the second time in NCAA tournament history that a team lost its perfect season in the national championship game.

The first occurred in 1961 when Ohio State was 27-0 and played Cincinnati for the national title. Despite being led by future NBA Hall of Famers John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas, the Buckeyes lost 70-65 in overtime and finished the season 27-1.

Gonzaga’s Chances

Even before the tournament started, you had to like Gonzaga’s chances of winning their region. In the West Regional were Virginia, Kansas, and Iowa all teams that the Bulldogs had already beaten in the regular season. All three of those teams – the No. 2, 3, and 4 seeds – have all been eliminated. Coach Few’s team will take on No. 5 seed Creighton in the regional semifinal and would then face the winner of USC-Oregon for a chance to go to the Final Four.

Will Gonzaga complete undefeated season?

  • Yes +140
  • No -180

(BetOnline Odds imply a 41.7% chance Gonzaga will go undefeated)

The Bulldogs will have to fend off the upset, something they have done pretty well so far this season. Gonzaga is the top-scoring offense in the country, but what makes this team really special is its No. 11 ranking in defensive efficiency. The Bulldogs have beaten elite talent – Iowa, Kansas, and Virginia for example – and have not just won games. They have won games handily. Gonzaga leads the nation in average scoring margin winning games by 23.5 points per game.

Gonzaga’s biggest scare of the season was the West Coast Conference championship game against a ranked BYU squad. The Cougars led at halftime 53-41 only to watch as the best team in the country outscored them by 22 points in the second half to win the game by 10, 88-78.

That was also Gonzaga’s third victory over BYU this season. It’s hard enough to beat a ranked team twice in a season let alone three times.

The Bulldogs have four NBA-ready players in their lineup. Corey Kispert leads the team in scoring averaging 19.2 points per game and 6-10 Drew Timme scores 18.8 points and leads the team in rebounds with 7.3 a game. Joel Ajayi is a 6-5 do-it-all guard who scores 11.9 points and grabs 7.1 rebounds a game and freshman Jalen Suggs (14.1 ppg) could be the program’s best-ever player.

The best remaining teams in the tournament are Baylor and Michigan, both No. 1 seeds. If all three No. 1s take care of business, Gonzaga would face the Wolverines in a semifinal and then Baylor in the championship game.

Can the Bulldogs complete a perfect season with a national championship? Absolutely.

They have beaten the best teams in the country all season long. This year’s Gonzaga team represents the best opportunity for a team to join San Francisco, North Carolina, UCLA, and Indiana as the only teams in history to go unbeaten and win a national title.

Men’s College Basketball National Championship Xbet.ag Odds Update (26/03/2021)

Team Odds
Gonzaga +140
Baylor +350
Michigan +650
Houston +700
Alabama +1000
Loyola-Chicago +1400
Florida State, Arkansas +1800
USC +2600
Villanova, UCLA +3000
Oregon +3500
Syracuse +4500
Creighton +5500
Oregon State, Oral Roberts University +7000
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