Baylor Trounces Gonzaga 86-70 To Win N.C.A.A. Men’s National Basketball Championship

Baylor upset top-seeded Gonzaga, 86-70 tonight to win its first NCAA men’s national basketball championship. The Bears, who last played for the title 73 years ago, went into the game a decided underdog. That despite having lost only twice all year and coming off a lopsided win over the University of Houston on Saturday.

The Bears outhustled the typically uptempo Bulldogs on offense, playing with overwhelming energy and force and running off 9 points before Gonzaga even scratched. They would never trail.

The Zags got into foul trouble in the first half when the hero of their game against UCLA — Tyler Suggs — was forced sit after two quick calls went against him. Baylor ran up a 29-12 lead with Suggs on the bench.

As a result, Gonzaga turned the ball over repeatedly and Baylor made them pay, scoring more than a dozen points off the Bulldogs sloppy play in the half. But despite falling down by as much as 19 the Zags battled back, going to a zone defense, getting a couple trademark transition baskets and cutting the lead to 10 with a flawlessly-executed drive upcourt for the final basket of the half.

Only one team has overcome a 10-point halftime deficit in a men’s tournament title game. According to the New York Times. Kentucky managed it against Utah in 1998.

It was not to be for the Bulldogs, as the Bears continued to take it to them in the second half. The outcome was a lopsided victory that few had predicted.

CBS aired the title game from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

The most recent undefeated championship season was pulled off by the Indiana Hoosiers in 1976, a team led by Scott May and coached by Bobby Knight. UCLA, who lost to Gonzaga in overtime in Saturday’s instant-classic semifinal, turned the trick four times during the 1960s and early ’70s under legendary coach John Wooden.

One final noteworthy moment: Before the same itself a group of first responders, medical and public safety workers sang a magnificent rendition of national anthem.

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