Recap: NCAA Men’s Basketball Team Top Contenders

4 min read

Anna Bauer ’23

Sports Editor

The NCAA has been well underway, beginning long ago on Wednesday, Nov. 25. Within the AP Top 25 is Gonzaga (ranked no. 1), Baylor (ranked no. 2), and Michigan (ranked no. 3). All three teams played this past Saturday, Feb. 27. Gonzaga and Michigan took home the win, Baylor did not.  

All season the Zags have been the team to beat, but they finished the regular season unscathed, winning all 24 games they played. This places Gonzaga not only in the No. 1 seat, but as only the eighth team to leave regular season with an unblemished record in the past 45 years.  

For most of the first half, the Zags were trailing behind the Loyola Marymount (LMU) Lions, but with 5:08 left on the clock, Gonzaga took the 25-23 lead and managed to keep it throughout the rest of the half.  

Entering into the second half, the score was 30-40, with Gonzaga leading. LMU was again the first team to score, but that did not matter as the Zags maintained their lead and ultimately enlarged it to a 17-point win, 86-69.  

Despite LMU living up to their very physical reputation, Gonzaga still overcame all physical difficulties. In fact, Gonzaga was in the double-bonus for the last 6 minutes of the first half because of all the fouls the Lions gave out. Though the Zags did not make every shot, making eight out of the 15, the extra points were still helpful in allowing them to take the lead and keep it. 

Now onto the team ranked no. 2, the Baylor Bears: last season, Baylor had a winning streak just like this one until they faced and lost to the Kansas Jayhawks. This season, Baylor lost their undefeated record to Kansas once again.  

Baylor began slow in both halves, falling behind 13-6 at the start of the first half and then again 10-3 at the beginning of the second. During the first half, the Bears tailed close behind the Jayhawks, but as the second half progressed, they fell further and further behind. With 12:41 left on the clock, the Bears managed to bring their score up to 42 against the Jayhawks 45, but again Baylor fell just short of what they needed, and this was the closest the Bears were able to get. No matter their determination, the Bears could not make it to victory and their record became 18-1, while Kansas’ record became 18-8.  

Previously, on Jan. 18, Kansas and Baylor had played for the first time and while Baylor had won this game, Kansas’ center David McCormick lost his 20 points per game average, only scoring six points. So, come Feb. 27, McCormick was ready to avenge his record and scored 20 points, majorly impacting the outcome of this game.   

The Michigan Wolverines are ranked No. 3 and this past Saturday they faced the Indiana Hoosiers who, after losing to the Wolverines, have 12 wins and 13 losses; meanwhile, the Wolverines have 19 wins and one loss.  

Against the Hoosiers, the Wolverines remained strong in every way: their full-court pressure, half-court defense, and strong rebounding left Indiana uneasy and behind. During the first half, once the Wolverines grabbed the lead, they did not let it go, ending the first half 42-33, though Indiana was not always far behind. The second half mimicked the first in that the Michigan did not let go of their lead, ultimately defeating the Hoosiers 73 to 57.   

Although some teams in the NCAA have reached the end of their regular season,  the postseason rages on and there are still many more games to be played. Stay tuned to read future updates in the Tripod as they become available. 

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