After Michigan’s 75-57 defeat to Minnesota on Saturday, that leaves just top ranked Gonzaga and second ranked Baylor as the only two unbeaten teams in the top 25 NCAA Mens Basketball rankings.
So dominant have both teams been so far this season in their respective divisions and games, that many feel that both are a lock in certainty to be competing in the March Madness Final Four later this year.
Indeed, some experts are willing to anoint top seed Gonzaga as the future NCAA College Basketball Champions.
However, as good as both team’s seasons have been thus far, it is still a little early to be confirming either team as a Final Four participant, let alone a future Champion.
History Shows Top Seeds Don’t Fare That Well In March Madness
You would assume that the top seeded team heading into March Madness tends to win the tournament, but that would be incorrect. The last top seed to win the event was Louisville back in 2013.
And even then, that title was vacated by the NCAA in 2018 due to a rules violation.
Statistics show that the top seed heading into March Madness reaches the Final Four on average just over 40% of the time. They reach the Title Game around 23% of the time and go on to win that game and become National Champions just 15% of the time.
Now those figures are the best of any of the top 16 seeds in the tournament, but they are far from convincing. Especially when trying to convince people to crown top seed Gonzaga as the team that will be cutting down the nets at the end of the National Championship game.
The Case For And Against Gonzaga
Mark Few’s Gonzaga squad is extremely strong. They have the player, guard Jalen Suggs, who many feel will be the number 1 pick in the forthcoming NBA Draft. Their squad has great depth and is packed with big, powerful, strong and athletic individuals who have gelled very well as a team.
This season, they have stormed to victory in key games against Iowa and Kansas and also handsomely beat the best team in the ACC, Virginia.
However, Gonzaga is not ranked in the top five for both offensive and defensive efficiency. Second seed Baylor are. Baylor have won every game they have played by eight points or more.
More convincing is the fact that the standard of opponent Baylor has faced in the Big 12 is of a generally much higher quality and standard than those which the Zags have faced in the West Coast.
Big Favourites Can And Do Fail
You also don’t have to look too long back into history to realise that top seeds at March Madness can and do fail, even if they are supremely talented. Two years ago, Duke, led by Zion Williamson, were reckoned to be nigh on unbeatable heading into March Madness, but they didn’t make the Final Four.
A couple of years before that, an unbeaten Kentucky team got as far as the semifinals but could go no further.
Other huge upsets over the years show how unpredictable playing for the National Championship can be. Few will forget 8th seed Villanova’s win over top seed Georgetown in the 1985 National Championship game.
Other shock wins such as sixteenth seed UMBC’s victory over top seed Virginia in the first round or Hampton defeating Iowa State also in the first round are just a few of many surprise results over the years.
Alongside Gonzaga (1) and Baylor (2), other contenders for March Madness include Villanova (3), Iowa (4), Texas (5) and Tennessee (6). Michigan (7) may have dissuaded a few experts from backing them after that defeat to Minnesota (17) at the weekend.
Part of the appeal of March Madness is that it is so open and surprise results can happen and while it is likely the winner will come from one of the top eight seeds, history shows that it won’t necessarily be one of the top two ranked sides, even if one, or both, head into the tournament unbeaten.