Baylor, which spent the early part of the century as a men’s basketball hellscape crawling with skulduggery and worse, spent Monday night as a brilliant, kinetic credit to its sport. It became the 37th different college to win a national championship, and it carved out a starring presence in future discussions about who has made the highest climbs from the lowest depths.
Baylor’s 86-70 win — which followed a fast start with leads of 9-0, 23-8 and 35-16 — cemented an NCAA men’s tournament in which it never really had to hyperventilate. Baylor (28-2) gave the record books some editing. They placed Gonzaga (31-1) as the third team to go all the way to the final night unbeaten and then lose just once — after Ohio State in 1960-61 and Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad in 1978-79 — and they prevented the Bulldogs from becoming the first team since Indiana in 1975-76 to spend a season free of losing.