Villanova Wildcats’ Jay Wright Explains How He Knew Baylor Bears Were Destined to Be Champions

Published 04/20/2021, 6:30 PM EDT
Apr 5, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Baylor Bears head coach Scott Drew and the Baylor Bears celebrate after beating the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the national championship game during the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports


After the Baylor Bears reached the 2021 NCAA tournament Final, few would have predicted them to win it. But among this minority, to have seen it coming, was Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright.

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During a recent podcast with Andy Katz, Wright revealed how he knew the Bears were going to win the title right after the Sweet Sixteen.

“We knew they were capable of winning the national championship,” Wright said. “A year before, we had played them a year before in very close game but a different high scoring (game). And we knew that’s not gonna work. We tried to grind it out with them (in the tournament) and they were able to do that too. So knew we knew they had a chance to win the national championship.”

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The Bears took down Wright’s Wildcats 62-51 in a gritty win. Baylor’s defense was one of their highlights, and that game was an example of that. Holding a top team to just 51 points is an impressive task, and that’s why Wright was impressed.

Mar 27, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Villanova Wildcats forward Jermaine Samuels (23) and Baylor Bears guard Davion Mitchell (45) chase a loose ball in the second half during the Sweet 16 of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Doug McSchooler-USA TODAY Sports

He also knew how they were capable of winning games with their offense too, citing their previous encounter. In the 2019-20 season, the Bears defeated the Wildcats 87-78 in a high-scoring affair. The scores changed, but the victor was the same in both games.

Looking back at the Baylor Bears’ March Madness win over the Villanova Wildcats

The Bears had a tough win over the Wisconsin Badgers in the second round of the March Madness tournament. That set them up for a Sweet Sixteen clash with Villanova, who beat the North Texas Mean Green.

The Wildcats came into the game as the second favorites, and the Bears didn’t an upset. Despite being down by seven points at halftime, the Bears fought back to complete a great comeback win. The highlight of the win was how they won despite shooting just 15% from three which is just 3-19.

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That is how good their defense was. They held the Wildcats to a similarly poor 17% from three, which is just 3-17. The Bears also forced 15 turnovers off the Wildcats, which is three times of what they had. This defense suffocated the Wildcats who had no answer on how to unlock it.

This defense is what led them to the NCAA title as well. So they are a live example of how defensive wins championships.

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Aaron Mathew

1532 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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