The Baylor Bears would be favorites against almost any team, but they are facing a juggernaut in Gonzaga. What will it take to beat the top team in college basketball?
Baylor Bears vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Monday, April 5, 2021 – 9:20 PM EST at Lucas Oil Stadium
During the Final Four, Baylor hoped that UCLA could knock off Gonzaga. Thanks to some overtime heroics, the Bulldogs managed to avoid a massive upset. Their perfect season is alive, and they are one win away from eternal glory.
Baylor had a much different experience in the Final Four. Their game had no surprises as the Bears won convincingly. They proved that they were one of the two best teams in college basketball, and they are now looking to prove that they are truly the best.
Despite the results from the Final Four, NCAAB odds suggest that Gonzaga will bounce back. They are favored by 4.5 points. It will take a lot for Baylor to upset Gonzaga. UCLA is one of the only teams that managed to get close all season. However, they finally have a somewhat successful blueprint. Here is what it will take for Baylor to knock off Gonzaga.
Find an Answer for Jalen Suggs
Gonzaga has a deep roster with plenty of talented players. However, Jalen Suggs is the X factor. He only had 16 points in the Final Four, but his impact goes beyond the statsheet. He can lead in transition, and his vision makes him hard to stop.
There is practically no way that Baylor wins this game in a blowout. It will go down to the wire. That is when Suggs is at his best. There is no logical way to stop him without compromising the rest of the defense.
Teams have tried all season to stop Suggs, but they have barely slowed him down. The best hope is getting him in foul trouble, but that is no guarantee. You just have to frustrate him with your defense. He can’t get anything easy in the National Championship. Pressuring him is a risk, but it’s the best bet you have to force him to make a mistake. If he doesn’t make one, Baylor will lose this game, and they might not even cover the spread.
Get Drew Timme Into Foul Trouble
Drew Timme has simply been unfair all season. He is a matchup nightmare in the post, and few teams have had an answer for him. He played well against UCLA, but they were able to at least limit his impact due to fouls. Baylor has to have a similar mindset with him.
The Bears should be ready to take a charge on any play. They need to drive into him and force contact. If they can get him to enter the second half with three fouls, that is a massive win that could be enough to win the game outright.
The issue with this is that Timme is an excellent defender when he is in foul trouble. He finds a way to keep himself out of trouble while still having an impact. He plays smart, so it will be hard to keep him out of the game for long. Still, Gonzaga does not like to play with a deep bench. In this game, they will rely on their stars. That includes Timme, so any time he has to sit on the bench in foul trouble would be massive for Baylor.
Let Jared Butler Cook
Baylor has one of the best defenses in college basketball, but they will have to put points on the board consistently to keep up with Gonzaga. This is a true title fight, and the Bears will turn to their leading scorer.
After initially going to Alabama, Jared Butler transferred to Baylor. Since his collegiate career began, he has had an impact. Now, he is one of the best guards in college. His consistency as a scorer has been vital for the Bears, but he will need to bring his best against Gonzaga.
Butler will be the focus of this offense. He needs the supporting cast around him to succeed, but the pressure to be the primary scorer when things get tough falls on Jared Butler. If he fails, Baylor can’t win. They need more than just him, but it is crucial that he has a good game.
In this game, both teams will turn to star players. If Baylor’s stars prevail, the +180 moneyline on the betting sites will pay out.