College basketball fans in the United States and beyond are tingling with excitement for the 2022 edition of the tournament, affectionately known as March Madness
. The 2022 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament sees 68 of the best college teams battle it out for supremacy from March 13, with the champions crowned at the Caesars Superdome
, New Orleans, Louisiana on April 4.
are the pre-tournament favorites yet again despite having never won the tournament in the team’s 115-year history. The Bulldogs may have never come out on top of March Madness yet, but they are easily the best men’s college basketball team in the United States.
Mark Few’s Incredible 23 Year Reign
Head Coach Mark Few
took over the Bulldogs’ reins at the start of the 1999-2000 season, and it is fair to say Few has worked wonders with the young men at his disposal. With the exception of his first season and 2011-12 when the Bulldogs finished second, Few’s men have won the West Coast Conference, often with ease.
Gonzaga reached the March Madness final in 2017 but lost 65-71 against North Carolina
. The Bulldogs became the first team since Indiana State in 1979 to advance to the national championship unbeaten. They progressed with a 26-0 record before winning their March Madness games. A 93-90 overtime victory against UCLA
sent Gonzaga through to their second championship game in the team’s long history. They faced Baylor
, who beat the number one seed 86-70 to secure their first March Madness title.
The Zags go into the 2022 March Madness on the back of a 25-3 season and with both the coaches ranking and Associated Press ranking placing Gonzaga as the number one team in college basketball
Losing Big-Name Stars; Gaining Stars of the Future
This year’s team has achieved remarkable results despite losing three stars to NBA teams. Jalen Suggs
was excellent for Gonzaga during his freshman year and looked set to be the star man for the Bulldogs in 2021-22. However, he declared himself eligible for the 2021 NBA Draft, where the Orlando Magic
selected him as the fifth overall pick. Suggs has gone straight into the Magic team and looks as good as he did in the college game.
The Bulldogs also lost small forward Corey Kispert
to the NBA Draft, with the Washington Wizards
selecting him as the 15th overall pick. Kispert was a great servant for Gonzaga, playing 137 games over four years. He has played regularly for the Wizards this season, starting 17 games and playing 58 in total.
Few has done an exceptional job in the recruitment department, bringing in Nolan Hickman
, Hunter Sallis
, and Chet Holmgren
, the latter being a 7ft tall mountain of a man who is destined for the very upper echelons of basketball.
If Not The Bulldogs, Who?
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are the pre-tournament favorites, but March Madness is a long, hard slog of a tournament where anything can happen. The Kentucky Wildcats
are the team most likely to emerge victoriously on April 4 if it is not the Bulldogs lifting the trophy.
Kentucky Wildcats are the most successful NCAA Division I basketball team
in history, with 2,327 wins and an all-time winning percentage of .765. The Wildcats have won the March madness trophy on eight occasions but not since 2012. Only UCLA, with 11 wins, has more than Kentucky.
The Wildcats were poor during the 2020-21 season, logging a 9-16 record. However, head coach John Calipari
has worked wonders with his roster of players and guided them to a 25-6 record this season. The Wildcats have an illustrious history with the March Madness tournament; it would take a brave person to write them off completely.