If you want to understand just how crazy, uneventful, and weird this college basketball season has been, just look at the top of the rankings.
Gonzaga — a program that only has one Final Four appearance on its resume — and Baylor — a school that’s known more for women’s basketball and its football program’s alleged rapey history — are the two best teams in the country by a country mile, as they’re both undefeated with a combined 37-0 record.
Writer’s note: This was written before Gonzaga’s Thursday night game against Saint Mary’s, but they’re going to win. So, we might as well just make that 38-0.
Head coaches Mark Few (Gonzaga) and Scott Drew (Baylor) are on a collision course to meet in the national championship game, as both coaches and their programs are trying to win their first title. The Bulldogs have never been able to get over the hump with 22 tournament appearances since 1995, including four Elite Eights, and one Final Four. The Bears have made seven tournament appearances during that same time frame with two Elite Eights, as they haven’t played in a national title game since 1948.
So, before the Baylor and Gonzaga fans get all upset about being disrespected, understand that casual college basketball fans only pay attention to this sport in March, and you all are far from the blueblood programs they’ve been accustomed to for decades.
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On paper, Gonzaga and Baylor look amazing. And when you watch them play on TV, they look even better. However, due to COVID, the only regular-season matchup between the two teams was postponed in December, and doesn’t look as if it will be rescheduled. Gonzaga has had seven games postponed/canceled this season, leading to them only facing four ranked opponents this year. Baylor has already had 10 games canceled/postponed and isn’t even playing right now due to COVID, as it won’t take the floor again until next Tuesday. As of now, it has/will play at least six ranked teams during the regular season.
It’s as if the two teams that have benefited the most from Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, and Michigan State all having down years, are also the same two teams that have dealt with two of the longer shutdowns due to COVID.
March will be a weird month, featuring a weird tournament that will have some very weird seeding, as Duke and Kentucky are on the outside of the tournament bubble looking in, while Gonzaga and Baylor sit atop the mountain.
And just to prove how weird Match Madness will be, the NCAA has decided to change the days the tournament will be played on.
(all times are ET):
Selection Sunday: 6 p.m. March 14
First Four: 4 p.m. start on Thursday, March 18
First Round:12 p.m. start on Friday, March 19, and Saturday, March 20
Second Round: 12 p.m. start on Sunday, March 21, and Monday, March 22
Sweet 16: 2 p.m. start on Saturday, March 27, and 1 p.m. start on Sunday, March 28
Elite Eight: 7 p.m. start on Monday, March 29, and 6 p.m. start on Tuesday, March 30
Final Four:5 p.m. start on Saturday, April 3
NCAA Championship Game:9 p.m. Monday, April 5