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It Doesn’t Pay To Be Unbeaten Entering Tourney, Now Does It?

Many modern-day college basketball programs have had to learn a hard lesson: don’t go into the NCAA Tournament without a loss. Eventually, you’ll run into a team that’s bigger, quicker, deeper and more skilled than you.

Just ask Gonzaga, which entered Monday’s title game at 31-0. They left at 31-1, dropping an 86-70 decision in a game in which they never really had a chance.

But hey, we really should make this about Baylor. The Bears may have gone unbeaten and won every game if they’d played in the West Coast Conference too.

That’s not to diminish the season the Zags had. It’s just to show you that the Bears have to be considered among the best NCAA champions of all time. Size, speed, discipline, you name it. Baylor truly had it all.

On this night, Baylor looked like a bunch of McDonald’s All-Americans, Gonzaga like the elementary school kids who get to play at halftime.

It was absolute blowout city. It was Baylor at its best, Gonzaga at its absolute worst. Now, the Zags will forever be known as just one of three unbeaten teams that reached the NCAA finals and lost — joining the 1961 Ohio State Buckeyes and Larry Bird’s 1979 Indiana State Sycamores.

So losing is OK before the tournament. In fact, it’s even encouraged. The goal, after all, is to play your best when it means the most. And on Monday, only Baylor did that.

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and NBA.com, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side, FortyEightMinutes.com.

3 Comments

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  1. Yes, Baylor won in every facet of the game and deserved this win, but can we talk for a second about the over the top love spewed by Raftery and Grant Hill??!! Raftery has been been trying for years to be Dicky V, but he was pretty ridiculous. Then there was Grant Hill. Did he think he was being the color commentator of the 1966 Kentucky-Texas Western Game? Did he think he was auditioning for Glory Road 2?? You just know every time he opened his mouth, Bomani Jones and Howard Bryant were saying to their TV, “Preach brutha”!! Good thing there wasn’t a mic near the table because I’d be willing to bet you could hear the crinkle in his khaki’s every time he popped a chub

  2. I think Baylor put on one of the best final four performances of all time. They beat the doors off two really good teams, and it wasn’t close from start to finish. Every time you thought Gonzaga was going to make a run Baylor answered every time with daggers from 3. They were in another zone. I was most impressed by their defense though. Their man to man didn’t give Gonzaga an inch all night long. You could tell the zags were uncomfortable trying to run any offensive sets in the half court. I would put this Bears team against anybody throughout history, and feel pretty doggone confident. What a team. They deserve to be champions.

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