baylor dominated gonzaga from end to end in an 86-70 win on monday night as the bears program captured its first national championship. the victory capped one of the greatest turnaround projects in college basketball history. Scott Draw took over at Baylor in August 2003 after the show had all but burned to the ground. baylor basketball had been decimated by the scandal, resulting in ncaa sanctions and the transfer of most of the team’s best players.
It took four seasons for the show to become respectable again, and the Bears have now been to nine NCAA tournaments since 2008. Prior to that, they had only appeared once since 1950. Baylor’s highest seed before this season was a 3, which has happened four times. the bears, note, would have been a 1 seed in the 2020 tournament had it been played.
The victory also marks the second ncaa championship for the big 12. The other came in 2008, when Kansas beat Memphis in overtime in San Antonio. the conference has only existed since 1996.
The streak of the top ten without a championship has now been extended to 20 tournaments, but the pac-12 has lasted three more years. Arizona is the last Pac-12 team to win the title. that came in 1997, when the league was still pac-10. these two conferences had very different regular seasons and tournament performances that did not reflect their respective regular season résumés.
pac 12 was fantastic. UCLA made it to the final four after starting the tournament in the top four, becoming only the second team to do so. the league placed three teams in the top eight and one more in the sweet 16, and those teams finished with 11 more wins than the top seeds would have projected.
baylor hits gonzaga in a shocking and dominant way. A championship edition of eye on college basketball recaps the national championship game.
The Big Ten, on the other hand, had one of the all-time faceplants for a conference. Rarely has a league been so well positioned to have a major tournament, and still flop. Of the five teams seeded to make the Sweet 16, only one advanced to that round. strong performances from the lower-seeded teams in the big ten helped save some face. still, the top ten teams won eight fewer games than expected.
the big ten is now the first league to put more than seven teams into the tournament and finish under .500.
this is not to say that the big ten was overrated while the pac-12 was underrated. teams earn selection and seeding based on what they do during a four-month regular season. the tournament, however, is a different animal. one bad day and that’s it. the top ten teams that were selected earned it and were rewarded with seeds that they too had earned. they just went out and wasted them.
everything i just said about the big ten also applies to the pac-12, except with opposite results. Oregon State, for example, had to win the conference tournament just to get into the NCAA tournament. the beavers made the most of that opportunity, but that doesn’t mean they should have been better seeded.
It wasn’t a great year for the ACC, either, which earned two wins apiece from Florida State and Syracuse, but saw the other five teams lose in the first round. The league’s 4-7 mark ties the 2016 Pac-12 for the worst record for a conference with at least seven teams in the tournament. Despite that poor showing, the ACC kept alive its streak of putting at least one team in the Sweet 16 every year since 1980. The second-longest streak belongs to the Big 12, dating back to 1999.
one last piece of trivia: the pac-12 and missouri valley conferences were the two multi-bid leagues where every team in the bracket won at least once.
2021 ncaa tournament conference records
The expected record is as if each team went as far as their seed indicates.
12 grand (7)
great east (4)
united states conference (1)
big ten (9)
mountain west (2)