Can Mark Few Win His First March Madness in 2021?

ncaa basketball

In 1999, Mark Few became the Gonzaga Bulldogs head coach. After shoulder injuries denied the Cresswell-born point pursuing his dream of playing basketball, the 58-year-old instead pursued a coaching career. Although he is yet to reach the pinnacle of NCAA basketball, March Madness success in 2021 isn’t out of the question. So, let’s take a look at whether this could finally be the year for Few.

From Mediocrity to Tournament Contenders

As stated above, injuries prevented the 58-year-old from following his dream, but that hasn’t stopped him from making a name for himself in the basketball world. Since taking the reins from Dan Monson, neither Few nor the Bulldogs have looked back. Under his leadership, and when the 2021 Big Dance kicks off, the Zags will have appeared in 21 consecutive NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournaments, as per Spokesman. Upon becoming head coach, Few battled to secure year-on-year progression. Over time, the Bulldogs took much-needed steps forward, although the 58-year-old regularly watched other sides lift the NCAA title, including the Louisville Cardinals in 2013.

However, in his 18th season with Gonzaga, the Oregon-born coach reached his first Final Four. Although the Zags won their National Semi-Final against South Carolina, Few’s team fell to a six-point defeat in their Championship Game to North Carolina. In staying true to his philosophy, the 2017 runners-up are undoubtedly in the frame to taste success this year. As per Sporting News, Tommy Lloyd, an assistant coach, believes that Few’s “greatest strength” is that he has lofty expectations. Through demanding perfection, the 58-year-old has transformed Gonzaga’s fortunes and unearthed talented players, such as Jalen Suggs. The 19-year-old will be keen to deliver with the NBA Draft scheduled for later this year, and if he’s selected, he’ll be hoping to change a franchise’s future trajectory.

The Favorites for Maiden Success in 2021?

Aside from entertainment, March Madness is notorious for being impossible to forecast. Although Gonzaga will likely be among the favorites, research from this Betway blog states that the odds are 120.2 billion to one to predict a perfect NCCA Tournament bracket. With 63 games to play, the chances of correctly guessing each result sits at 9.2 quintillion, meaning that you are 36 million times more likely to become an NBA player. Given that the Zags are leading contenders, this perhaps isn’t a positive omen, with many experts expecting them to go all the way.

As highlighted above, predicting the NCAA Division I Men’s Tournament outcome isn’t as easy as many people think. That said, the Zags certainly look good value having been given the favorites tag. According to CBS Sports, Few’s team boasts the leading offensive efficiency and are ranked fourth regarding defensive efficiency. Because of that, there’s no reason that Gonzaga can’t replicate Kentucky Wildcats’ success from 2012.

Is it a Case of Now or Never?

Thus far, Few has tried and failed to win March Madness on 20 different occasions. This time around, however, things appear in Gonzaga’s favor. Through staying true to his approach, the 58-year-old has created a well-rounded team that’s able to reach the pinnacle. Now, it’s about showing that they’re capable and winning Few his maiden NCAA title.