Basketball fans have high hopes that we’ll get a full season in 2021. A trip to the Final Four and beyond would be lovely, of course. But every year’s team roster and opponents are both different, so anything can happen.
While thinking good thoughts about future squads, it’s especially fun to look at highlights from past years.
• Recent memories: The screams of joy and then disappointment may still be ringing in some people’s ears from Gonzaga’s loss in the final championship game in 2019 against North Carolina. Longtime basketball fans admitted that both teams were solid and the win could have gone either way. (And with the final score of 71-65, it almost did.) But all in all, the season was one for the books, with an impressive 37-2 record.
• First trip to the ball: All sorts of Cinderella references were made in 1996, the first year the Bulldogs qualified for the NCAA tournament. That year, the team won the WCC Tournament, was the No. 10 seed, had a 26-9 record, and made it all the way to the Sweet 16. It was also the foundation of annual trips to the playoffs. The Cinderella references didn’t last much longer – by then the team was pretty much established as a regular guest to the ball.
• First battle. Another annual tradition started in 2003, when Gonzaga played its first Battle in Seattle. The Key Arena appearance became a great way for Seattle fans to see the Zags in action without coming to Spokane. For the first year, the game was televised nationally, which let even more viewers see Gonzaga emerge triumphant over Missouri 87-80 in overtime. The team played in the battle each December until 2016-2017 when the game was canceled.
• Top performance: The 2012-2013 team was particularly noteworthy – it received its first No. 1 seed in the NCAA playoff tournament, and was also ranked as the No. 1 team in the country.
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