Baylor University Bears won the NCAA's March Madness 2021, redefining joy by honoring the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bears overwhelmed Gonzaga Bulldogs with a stunning victory, 86-70, in Indianapolis Monday night. The win is first in the history of Baylor University (BU), The Christian Post (CP) reported.
Undefeatable until that night, the Bulldogs reached the finals with a clean record of 31-0. But CP noted that "no team would have a chance" with the way the Bears performed that evening.
Jared Butler led the bears with 22 points, seven assists and four 3-point shots. He was declared the Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
Moments after securing the crown, BU reportedly gathered for a prayer in the court to thank God for their win.
Speaking to Jim Nantz of CBS, head coach Scott Drew shared the Bears' culture.
"We play with a culture of J.O.Y. That's Jesus, Others then Yourself," he said.
In the press conference after the game, the coach expressed his gratitude to God.
"First and foremost, I want to thank God for blessing us with this opportunity tonight. I know the guys have worked really hard, so happy they get a chance to celebrate now."
He then gave further explanation about the culture of the team.
"A lot of joy in the locker room for sure. But our joy is Jesus, Others, Yourself. It's so tough to put other people in front of you and teams that do that are obviously more successful. Our guys, their love for each other [is] because they spend so much time working on their craft together, and they put in the time," Drew stated.
He continued by appreciating their assistant coaches, saying that they have brought "high-character kids" into the team, hardworking and team players.
In response to a question from the media, Butler also spoke about the team's Christ-centered culture.
"Man, I'm not trying to preach a prosperity gospel, but our Lord and Savior, I say it all the time: He gets us through everything. Jesus Christ, man, He's the truth. He was with us tonight, He was with us all season, He's with us wherever we go. He just sustained us. He brought us together. He brought this team together - transfers, people from overseas. It's just tremendous how it just comes and it comes all full circle," he said.
Butler is said to be the first player in a national championship game to have scored with at least 20 points and seven assists since Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony in 2003.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few said that the Bears beat them "in every facet of the game" that evening, citing aggressiveness and athleticism. Had they won that night, the Bulldogs could have been the first unbeaten team in 45 years.
Indiana University holds the record as NCAA's only undefeated team to have clinched the championship, when they won against the Michigan Wolverines in 1976, 86-68. The Hoosiers, which was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in January 2021, was coached by Bob Knight, a Hall of Famer himself.