Gonzaga will take a perfect 26-0 record into the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The Bulldogs are the 20th team to enter the tournament with a perfect record, and it set to make a 22nd straight appearance in the Big Dance for the program.
Gonzaga has maintained an incredible run of dominance out of the West Coast Conference, but that success has come with continual questions about its blue-blood credentials.
Would the program’s first national championship eliminate those questions? That would be the topper on what has been an incredible statistical run since the 1998-99 season.
Sporting News digs into those numbers.
Gonzaga basketball record since 1999
Gonzaga has the best record in Division I since 1999. The Bulldogs are 653-131, a winning percentage of .832.
How does that stack up with the best programs in college basketball? Gonzaga is one of four schools with at least 600 wins since 1999. The Bulldogs have the highest winning percentage among those schools in that stretch (records as of March 10).
Division I programs with 600 wins since 1999
Best record last five years
Mark Few took over as head coach after the 1999 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and he built on that Elite Eight under Dan Monson the previous season.
Few has led the Bulldogs to the tournament in every season since, but the last five seasons have produced an incredible stretch of winning.
Gonzaga is 159-13 in that stretch – a winning percentage of .924. Villanova, which is 134-31 with a .812 winning percentage, ranks second in that stretch.
Two impressive stats emerge out of this five-year run. Gonzaga has not lost more than five games in a single season. The Bulldogs also have not lost more than one conference game in the regular season in that five-year run.
Best conference record
The Bulldogs are 368-38 in conference play since the tournament run started in 1998-99. That’s a winning percentage of .906.
Gonzaga is 82-3 in regular-season play in the West Coast Conference the last five seasons, and they have won four of the last five tournaments. That included last season before the NCAA tournament was canceled because of COVID-19.
NCAA Tournament streak
Gonzaga has the third-longest active NCAA Tournament streak at 21 years. The other schools with at least 20 straight tournament appearances coming into this season were Kansas (30), Duke (24) and Michigan State (22). North Carolina went to the NCAA Tournament in 27 straight seasons from 1975-2001 under three different coaches.
The Bulldogs have never missed the NCAA Tournament under Few.
March Madness success
The Bulldogs are 34-21 in the NCAA tournament since that Elite Eight run in 1999. Here is how that tournament success breaks down by round:
If there has been a criticism of Gonzaga, then it is that the regular-season success has not carried over in the tournament. The Bulldogs have failed to get out of the first weekend of the tournament in 11 of those 21 tournament appearances.
Few has helped dispel in that the last five seasons, however, with two Sweet 16 appearances, two Elite Eight appearances and a run to the NCAA national championship game in 2017.
The Bulldogs appear primed for another one of those runs in 2021 – and this West Coast Conference dynasty has shown no signs of slowing down.