SAN FRANCISCO — Gonzaga coach Mark Few is not certain there’s a legitimate purpose — other than it’s really hard to do — why the West has not produced an NCAA men’s basketball event champion given that Arizona in 1997.
Couple of is specific that several Western groups, including his Zags in 2017 and 2021, have been able of ending a title drought that has reached 25 years. Gonzaga was just one victory away last year from turning out to be the 1st unbeaten national winner considering that Indiana in 1976, but Baylor took residence the hardware with an 86-70 victory in Indianapolis.
Couple is specific the West Coast Meeting is as fantastic as it’s been in his 32-12 months affiliation with the meeting.
The West, in normal, is on an upswing with Gonzaga, Arizona and UCLA in the Sweet 16 and the Zags and Wildcats earning No. 1 seeds. Gonzaga and UCLA staged an epic additional time struggle at very last year’s Closing Four and USC and Oregon Condition designed the Elite 8.
“It’s been great,” Few said of basketball in the West. “Lute (Olson, former Arizona mentor) had good teams, UCLA and UNLV experienced very good groups. We form of grew up watching those people. It’s really fantastic, it’s in a excellent put correct now.”
The West almost finished the title dry spell at 20 yrs when Gonzaga defeated South Carolina in a single countrywide semifinal, but Oregon fell to North Carolina 77-76, preventing an all-West last. Gonzaga led with a lot less than two minutes remaining but the Tar Heels received the championship by scoring the remaining eight factors.
Number of figures the concerns will resurface with the Zags, the tournament’s prime total seed, set to confront fourth-seeded Arkansas in the Sweet 16 these days at Chase Middle.
“They appear to be to sort of stuff a great deal of us in in opposition to every other (in the same bracket),” Couple of stated. “And so naturally, with the populace centers staying on the East Coast they get more groups, but for whatsoever cause they just form of feel to stuff us in. Who knows if us and UCLA have been in distinctive brackets even at that Last 4 last 12 months?
“I’ve read it talked about back in 2017 and naturally it is continued on.”
Reducing down the nets necessitates six victories in a stress-packed, get-or-go-dwelling match. Think about that Baylor’s title past 12 months was the Massive 12’s 1st considering that Kansas in 2008. The 2000 Michigan State Spartans have been the past Huge 10 champion.
“Winning a nationwide title is extremely difficult,” said Dan Monson, who guided Gonzaga to the 1999 Elite 8 ahead of shifting on to Minnesota and his existing put up at Extensive Seashore State. “I try to remember getting in the Major Ten and persons expressing how several several years it experienced been since a Big Ten faculty had won. Which is why it is so sweet and coveted mainly because it’s actually really hard to do.
“I really do not assume it has just about anything to do with West Coastline basketball. There’s only one winner every single 12 months and it’s tricky to do.”
Utah, then a member of the Western Athletic Convention, and Stanford advanced to the 1998 Last 4, with the Utes slipping to Kentucky in the championship.
Arizona’s very last vacation to the Last Four finished in a title-recreation reduction to Duke in 2001.
UCLA manufactured 3 consecutive Final Fours from 2006-08, but arrived up small in opposition to Florida in 2006, the very first of the Gators’ two consecutive titles. The Bruins received the 1995 title towards Arkansas.
“There’s not as numerous schools out West for starters,” Washington Condition coach Kyle Smith reported. “The West has 3 teams that are able with Gonzaga and Arizona, and never sleep on UCLA because they obtained to the Last Four previous calendar year.”
Smith has been at WSU for three seasons soon after a few yrs at San Francisco in the WCC. He spent 6 several years in the Ivy League as Columbia’s mentor before having charge at USF.
“I feel (the Pac-12) is a small beneath-represented, but the numbers did not shake out,” he mentioned. “I consider we’re undertaking fairly perfectly in the postseason and we’ll bounce back again upcoming season for sure, but once again we could have two of the top 8 teams.”