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Undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs faced the Baylor Bears for the NCAA men's basketball tournament's championship on Monday night

By Jason Duaine Hahn
April 05, 2021 11:34 PM
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Jalen Suggs #1 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs, Jared Butler #12 of the Baylor Bears
Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty; Trevor Brown Jr/NCAA Photos via Getty

With history on the line, the undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs faced the Baylor Bears for the NCAA men's basketball tournament's championship on Monday — and came heartbreakingly short on achieving their perfect season.

Gonzaga lost the championship game 86 to 70. The Bears' victory marks Baylor's first national title.

From the first possession of the game, the Bears displayed a valiant effort. The Texas team never trailed during Monday night's game, racking up a 29-10 lead within the first 10 minutes.

The Bulldogs came into Monday night's matchup with a 31-0 record and dreams of becoming the first unbeaten team to become champions since the Indiana Hoosiers in 1976.

Baylor
(L-R) Mark Vital #11, Davion Mitchell #45. Jackson Moffatt #13 and Flo Thamba #0 of the Baylor Bears celebrate after their win against the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the National Championship game of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 05, 2021
| Credit: Brett Wilhelm/Getty Images

Leading up to tonight's game, it appeared momentum was on their side.

Throughout the tournament, top-seeded Gonzaga easily beat their opponents, outscoring the likes of Norfolk State, Oklahoma, Creighton, and USC by double digits in each game (in the case of Norfolk State, the team won by a whopping 43 points).

But the team came close to seeing their tournament run come to an end in the Final Four when they faced 11th seed UCLA in an instant classic.

Baylor Bears
Credit: Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty
The Gonzaga Bulldogs
Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty

In what's already being called one of the best college basketball games of all time, Gonzaga defeated UCLA in overtime when 19-year-old freshman Jalen Suggs made a 40-foot bank shot with barely a second left in the game.

Despite the loss, UCLA left the tournament becoming the first team since 2011 to advance to the Final Four from the First Four, ESPN reported.

While they may not have had a perfect record, Baylor was an undeniable powerhouse throughout the men's tournament.

The Bears handed Houston a lopsided loss in their Final Four matchup on Saturday, cruising to a 78-59 victory to reach the championship game.

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In the first four rounds of the tournament, Baylor defeated Hartford, Wisconsin, Villanova and Arkansas, giving them a 27-2 record before Monday's game.

Last year, March Madness was canceled following the rise of the coronavirus pandemic. The decision came after the college championships leading up to the NCAA Tournament, including the Ivy League, ACC and SEC, were also canceled.

For the 2021 tournament, the NCAA hosted every game in Indiana, with the majority of the tournament's matchups taking place in Indianapolis.

There has been "limited" fan attendance at games, with arenas allowed to let in up to 25 percent of their typical capacity and enforce social distancing guidelines.