Gonzaga returns to the NCAA national title game tonight for the first time since 2017 and the second time in school history.
After narrowly escaping the Final Four with a thrilling 93-90 overtime victory over UCLA, the Bulldogs' quest for the first unbeaten season in 45 years hangs in the balance on Monday night against Baylor.
Contrary to the last time Gonzaga played for a national title, the Bulldogs are the betting favorite.
Before head coach Mark Few took over the program in 1999, Gonzaga had only reached the NCAA tournament twice and made it as far as the Elite Eight once. In Few's 22 seasons leading the way, the Bulldogs have made the tournament every year. A decent, but certainly not great program when he arrived, Few has guided Gonzaga to a 630-124 record, accounting for nearly half of the wins the men's basketball program has dating back to its origins in 1943-44.
Until this season, one of Few's crowning achievements in Spokane was reaching the NCAA Championship Game in 2017. In a matchup against North Carolina between two No. 1 seeds, the Bulldogs came up short, losing 71-65. Nigel Williams-Goss led the way for Gonzaga, posting 15 points and nine rebounds. It wasn't enough against a UNC team led by 22 points from Joel Berry and 16 from Justin Jackson.
The next season, Gonzaga lost in the Sweet 16 to Florida State and then lost to Texas Tech by six in the 2019 Elite Eight before COVID-19 canceled last year's tournament.
Tonight, Gonzaga returns to the national championship game spotlight with a different cast of characters from the 2017 team. But Few is still there, ready to achieve what was incomprehensible for Gonzaga just three decades ago.