Baylor blew out Houston in the Final Four to earn a spot in the game everyone has waiting all season to see—the Bears against Gonzaga for the national title. Check out their NCAAB odds and the reasons why they won’t win.
Baylor Bears vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Monday, April 05, 2021 – 09:20 PM EDT at Lucas Oil Stadium
Baylor blew out Houston in the national semifinal on Saturday, overwhelming a good Cougars team to cruise into Monday in the national title game everyone has waited all season for, against unbeaten Gonzaga.
The Bears and Zags are the top two teams in the nation and clearly on their own tier, above the rest of college basketball. They’ve combined to go 58-2 this year, with 52 of their 58 wins coming by double digits.
Gonzaga, who hasn’t lost since a month before the start of the pandemic, is looking to go wire-to-wire as the top team in the nation, but the Bulldogs showed vulnerability for this first time this season on Saturday, when they struggled with UCLA in the Final Four. The Bruins led the Zags much of the game and took Gonzaga to overtime. The game nearly went to a second overtime as the No. 11 seeded UCLA was dead even with the Zags, until a Jalen Suggs hit a desperation three pointer that banked in at the buzzer to allow Gonzaga to survive and advance with a three-point win, its closest game of the season.
It is Baylor that now looks unstoppable as we wind down the NCAA basketball season. But here are three reasons why the Bears will lose and Gonzaga will cut down the nets on Monday night.
1. Interior Shooting Doesn’t Take the Day Off
Baylor is the top three-point shooting team in the country, but Gonzaga is No. 1 at two-point shooting. The Zags have hit nearly 64 percent of their shots inside the three-point line, which should break the break the 44-year-old record set by Princeton.
Even when nothing else seemed to be working against UCLA, the Zags hit 30-of-42, 71.4 percent, from two. That included an 11-of-14 performance by big man Drew Timme, who should have a mismatch against Baylor’s Flo Thamba in the post on Monday night.
It’s not like the Zags are slouches from outside, either. Gonzaga hit 36.9 percent from three, good for No. 43 in the country. The Bulldogs are led by Corey Kispert, who hit 44.5 percent from outside and can keep the defense from collapsing on Timme.
2. D-ing Up
Both teams are elite offensive juggernauts. They’re one and two in efficiency, one and four in effective shooting, and among the national leaders in ball protection and rebounding.
As the cliché goes, defense wins championships, and the Zags are the better defensive team. Gonzaga allowed UCLA to hit 8-of-17 from three in Saturday’s off night. Prior to that, the Zags had allowed teams to shoot just 34-of-123, 27.6 percent, in the postseason.
3. You had Your Shot, America
Great teams usually have one game in their tournament run where they show vulnerability—where it becomes clear that if the field has a chance to knock off the big dog, it’s tonight. Gonzaga had that game on Saturday. The Zags had their worst game on the offensive boards in 35 days and their worst defensive showing since the day after Christmas. Gonzaga’s tempo, usually No. 7 in the country, was slowed by UCLA, and the Bulldogs didn’t get to the foul line against the Bruins.
As they say, if you come at the king, you’d best not miss. Once the upset bid fails, the great team usually takes the wake-up call and finishes its tournament run with a vengeance. Baylor looked as good as it has in weeks, since the team’s last COVID shutdown. Gonzaga hasn’t looked that bid in 13 months. Look for both team to regress to the mean.
This is the best championship game college basketball could give us, and likely the best since at least 2005. Baylor picked a bad year to deliver its best team ever, because the Zags appear to be rolling to their coronation and that's why they are my NCAAB pick.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.