Ace researcher Jared Berson of ESPN's Stats and Information group dropped a stat on Twitter last week that caught the eye of many around college basketball: it's the first time ever that each of the previous season's Final Four teams won at least 15 of their first 17 games the following season.
Defending national champion Baylor won its first 15 games of the season and now sits at 19-3 after coming back to beat West Virginia on Monday. National runner-up Gonzaga lost two of three games in late November and early December but has since won 10 in a row to improve to 17-2.
The two teams that lost in the national semifinals have been equally impressive. Houston has dealt with injuries and a couple of early nonconference losses, but the Cougars were 18-2 entering Wednesday night and riding a 10-game winning streak. UCLA is 16-2 and has rebounded nicely from a COVID-19 pause that lasted nearly a month.
Last year's Final Four teams are:— Jared Berson (@JaredBerson) January 28, 2022
It's the first time EVER that each Final Four team won at least 15 of their first 17 games the next season.
The biggest surprise of the group is Houston, which opened the season ranked No. 15 in the country and has now positioned itself for a potential top-two seed in March. The other three teams started the season in the top 10, with Gonzaga (No. 1) and UCLA (No. 2) atop the rankings and Baylor slotting in at No. 8.
While the quartet makes up exactly half of the top eight in this week's AP poll, which teams have the best chance of making a repeat Final Four run? We asked opposing coaches.