No. 1 Gonzaga will meet No. 1 Baylor in the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball national championship game Monday.
Tipoff is scheduled for 9:20 p.m. ET at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The game will be televised by CBS.
Gonzaga (31-0) won the West Region under coach Mark Few and advanced to the championship game with a thrilling 93-90 overtime victory over No. 11 UCLA on Saturday. Jalen Suggs’ buzzer-beating 3-pointer was the highlight, and the Bulldogs hope to carry that momentum into the championship game. Suggs, Drew Timme and Corey Kispert are All-America playmakers trying to cap that perfect season.
Baylor (27-2) won the South Region under coach Scott Drew and advanced to the championship game with a 78-59 victory over No. 2 Houston in the Final Four. The Bears are in the national championship game for the first time since 1948. Baylor’s guard trio of Jared Butler, MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell hit double figures against the Cougars.
Here’s everything to know about betting on Gonzaga vs. Baylor in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, including updated odds, trends and our prediction for the Final Four game.
Gonzaga vs. Baylor odds
Three betting trends to watch
— The Bulldogs have been favored in every game and are 16-13-2 ATS this season. Gonzaga is 5-1 ATS against top-25 opponents and 4-1 ATS in this year’s tournament.
— Baylor is 19-10 ATS this season, but this is its first game as an underdog. Baylor is 4-1 ATS in this year’s tournament.
— Baylor is 10-3 ATS and 13-0 S/U in nonconference games. Gonzaga is 9-5 ATS and 14-0 S/U in nonconference games.
Final Four history
Gonzaga is in its second national championship game; the first was a 71-65 loss to North Carolina on April 3, 2017. The Bulldogs can become the first undefeated Division I men’s basketball team since Indiana finished 32-0 in the 1975-76 season. Baylor will play in its second title game. The Bears lost to Kentucky 58-42 in the 1948 men’s national championship.
Gonzaga key players
Timme (19.0 ppg) has been a force throughout the tournament. He scored 25 points in the semifinal against UCLA. Kispert (18.9 ppg) and Suggs (14.0 ppg) form a dynamic backcourt. Joel Ayayi (11.8 ppg) and Andrew Nembhard (9.1 ppg) also hit double figures against the Bruins. The Bulldogs do not have a deep bench.
Baylor key players
Baylor uses an eight-man rotation, but everything starts with guards Butler (16.5 ppg), Teague (15.9 ppg) and Mitchell (14.0 ppg). They combine to average close to 12 assists per game, and they combined for 40 points in the victory against Houston. Baylor’s supporting cast includes Adam Flagler (9.0 ppg), Matthew Mayer (8.2 ppg), Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (6.3 ppg), Mark Vital (5.7 ppg) and Flo Thamba (3.6 ppg).
Best individual matchup: Jalen Suggs vs. Davion Mitchell
There are popcorn GIFs for this kind of thing. Mitchell is the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, and the 6-2, 205-pound guard is a wide body who is disruptive on the perimeter. Suggs, a 6-4, 205-pound guard, is one of the best — if not the best — players in the country off the drive, and he has shot better than 50 percent from the floor for the season. The Bears have turned up their defense in the last three tournament games, allowing just 60.7 points per game. Mitchell has been at the center of that.
Gonzaga vs. Baylor stat to know
UCLA pushed Gonzaga to the brink by shooting 57.6 percent from the floor. That was the highest field goal percentage against the Bulldogs this season. The other two teams to shoot 50 percent or better? Kansas (53.2 percent) and Oklahoma (50 percent). Gonzaga won both of those games, but those Big 12 schools were successful on the offensive end. Baylor can have that success, and it also can win with its defense.
Get to know . . . Mayer and Tchamwa Tchatchoua
The two combined for 23 points and 10 rebounds against Houston in the Final Four, and both played over 20 minutes. They are high-energy players who will be valuable on defense given how Gonzaga can push the tempo for 40 minutes. Tchamwa Tchatchoua, a 6-8 forward from Cameroon, likely will see valuable minutes against Timme. Mayer has averaged 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game in the tournament. They will need to contribute for the Bears to pull the upset.
Gonzaga vs Baylor prediction
Gonzaga was supposed to win in a blowout and Baylor in a tight one in the Final Four. Those roles were reversed. Still, the Bulldogs did what UNLV and Kentucky couldn’t do in 1991 and 2015, respectively: reach the championship game.
The Bears can score with the Bulldogs, which should lead to a furious first half and a slim Gonzaga lead at intermission. Baylor has defended the 3-point ball well during the tournament, but the common thread in its two losses this season (Kansas, Oklahoma State) was an off shooting night. If the Bears are off, then Gonzaga will win in a blowout.
Mitchell will tie up Suggs, but Kispert and Timme will get the offense going in the second half. The Bulldogs hold off Baylor’s late charge with free throws, seal the perfect season and earn a national championship worth waiting for.
Final score: Gonzaga 85, Baylor 81
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