For one of these teams, it’s finally happening.
The Universities of Gonzaga and Xavier don’t have football teams. Xavier ended their football program in 1973 for cost reasons. Gonzaga played until 1942, when there were not enough male players to field a team due to World War 2.
Over the last 20 years, both schools have experienced success in men’s college basketball. Xavier has only missed the NCAA tournament seven times over the last 30 years. Gonzaga has appeared in every tournament since 1999. But for both schools, a Final Four appearance has eluded what would be an otherwise very successful basketball program.
That changes on Saturday night.
When Gonzaga and Xavier meet in the Elite Eight, one of them will make their first Final Four in school history.
Both teams have been to the precipice and fallen short. Xavier has been to the regional final twice before, but never under Chris Mack, who is in his eighth season as head coach. Both of Xavier’s previous head coaches, Thad Mottta and Sean Miller, moved on to bigger schools within two years of reaching the Elite Eight.
Gonzaga burst onto the scene in 1999, when Dan Monson led the team on a Cinderella run as a 10 seed. They fell to top seed UConn, and Monson left the next season to take the head job at Minnesota.
Enter Mark Few. Now in his 18th season, Few has a ridiculous .814 win percentage, a number that ranks fourth all-time and ahead of John Wooden (.8039). Despite his regular season success, Few only reached this point once before and only two years ago, when a talented Gonzaga team was knocked off by eventual national champions Duke.