Gonzaga vs. Baylor: A Bracket Busting Bonanza

March Madness has always been crazy, but this year is TRULY madness.


Drew Cornman, Features/Production Editor

Take a minute and think: Is watching college basketball REALLY that high on my list of priorities? No? Maybe? Probably yes? For many fans, March Madness is more than just a basketball tournament. It encapsulates the entire month and climax of the season, reaching a point that is so obsessive it could keep one indoors watching basketball all day. Funny enough, over this tumultuous heap of a year, watching television is, literally, second nature to most. While the sport can be exhilarating for any level of fan, personally, I felt a little out of touch with this year’s selection. It mainly has to deal with the COVID-19 factor and that a few teams were out because of it. VCU, for example, forfeit their first round game against Oregon because of an outbreak. Moments like these are fearful, but overall, it led to an exciting and upset-filled tournament, right up until the championship.

There it was – Gonzaga vs. Baylor, two number one seeds. While this seems like the casual college basketball connoisseur’s matchup, two one seeds playing against one another does not happen often. In fact, since the tournament officially began seeding in 1979, only 9 times (including this year) has it occurred. Although this year had featured veterans making runs  (Gonzaga, Michigan, Baylor, UCLA, Houston) favorites were knocked out early. 

“I originally had Illinois playing Gonzaga in the championship and winning, but when Illinois lost I figured Gonzaga would win it. Baylor surprised me as well, going as far as they did” says senior Joshua Irwin.

Often, the final four can determine the direction of a bracket. It is a point where one must choose between their possible biased team while also trying to pick the favorable one that can make you a winner.  

“Michigan vs. Gonzaga, Arkansas vs. Syracuse.” says senior William Lanese. “And honestly, I did not expect Baylor to pull through.”

“My original final four was Michigan, Gonzaga, Illinois and Ohio State,” replied Joshua Irwin. “Baylor surprised me as well, going as far as they did.” 

Clearly, the run that surprised people (when it should not have) is the run that the Baylor Bears had. With lockdown defense, the team was able to stop the teams by a decent amount, noticeably Gonzaga.  The team uses a scheme called “no-middle defense” where the team prevents the ball and players from setting up in the middle, forcing them to drive towards the outside. Simple in theory, but is tough to perfect in practice. Clearly, the team was able to perfect this defense. At three separate times, Baylor led with a 9-0 initial run, 23-8 and 35-16. Taking 24 of the first 36 shots, the team out-shot Gonzaga 67-49, 38 rebounds for Baylor compared to 22 and 10 for 23 on three pointers. At no point in the game was there any sense of a comeback from Gonzaga, with the final score being 86-70.

Even though many brackets were busted and shattered, this tournament easily became one of the most entertaining and fascinating things to watch over the past year. Baylor attained their first basketball championship and became the 37th college to do so, with Gonzaga almost making the run of the century.