NCAA Tournament, National Championship Game
No. 1 Gonzaga (31-0, 15-0) vs. No. 3 Baylor (27-2, 13-1)
- Time: 6:20 PST – 8:20 CST – 9:20 EST
- Place: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
- TV: CBS
The show down is finally here as Gonzaga and Baylor meet for the National Championship. The Bulldogs have won all five of the previous matchups as four of those are under coach Mark Few and there are four wins also on neutral courts.
Gonzaga won the last meeting in 2019 as the Bulldogs beat Baylor, 83-71, on a neutral court. The Bulldogs are the first team to enter the national championship game undefeated since 1979 Indiana State with Larry Bird.
The Bulldogs have 22 straight NCAA Tournament appearances which is the third longest streak in the nation and Gonzaga is the first program in NCAA history to have 30 straight winning seasons.
Baylor is in it’s first national championship game since 1948 and the Bears and Bulldogs are ironically meeting four months to the day of Dec. 5 when their regular season matchup was cancelled.
Last Time Out:
The Bears dominated Houston 78-59 in the first game of the Final Four as Jared Butler scored 17 first half points and Baylor rolled to a 45-20 halftime lead. Baylor shot 52.7 percent from the floor and made 11-of-24 threes.
Gonzaga won a thriller in overtime when Jalen Suggs banked in a three-pointer from just over the mid-court line as time ran our and the Bulldogs got past UCLA, 93-90, in overtime. The game saw 15 ties and 19 lead change as the Bruins wouldn’t relent. Both teams shot around 60 percent as the balls were all pretty much defended and each team was making shots. Drew Timme led Gonzaga with 25 and Joel Ayayi netted 22.
Vs. The Spread:
- The Bears are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games
- The oVER has been the play in 14 of Baylor’s last games
- Baylor is 6-1 ATS when playing as the underdog
- The Bulldogs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games
- The OVER has been the play in 8 of the Zags’ last 12 games
- The total has gone over in Gonzaga’s last 6 games vs. Big 12 opponents
Offensive Power Surge:
Gonzaga (1st) and Baylor (2nd) in adjusted offensive efficiency as the Bulldogs also are No. 1 in effective field goal efficiency as the Bears rank fourth. Baylor is also the No. 1 three-point shooting team in the nation at 41.2 percent while Gonzaga is No. 1 in two-pointers at 63.9 percent.
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|Baylor||+4½ (-110)||+170||O 159½ (-110)|
|Gonzaga||-4½ (-110)||-200||U 159½ (-110)|
The Bears’ rout of Houston gained Cougars’ coach Kelvin Sampson’s attention as Baylor used five guards often and it worked in spreading out the Cougars as it caused defensive issues. Jared Butler will be the key catalyst with Davion Mitchell. This will stem to both ends of the floor when Butler and Joel Ayayi will likely matchup as will Mitchell, the Bulldogs’ defensive stopper, and Jalen Suggs. Mitchell could matchup with Corey Kispert if he gets hot from the floor and the Bears try to break his rhythm. Finding the three through so many shooters with consistency will be the biggest key for the Bears against a Gonzaga team that has held opponents to 32.8 percent. MaCio Teague joins Butler and Mitchell as shooters who net around 44 percent of their triples.
Key Bears Stat:
Looking at the win over Houston, Baylor’s bigs in Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, Flo Thamba, and Mathew Mayer if you want to call the 6-9 sophomore a big. He goes outside and drills the three, so he is that hybrid stretch-4 type of baller. The trio combined for 27 points and 14 rebounds as Mayer was 5-of-10 from the floor with 12 points and four boards. This will be a test for Drew Timme in the middle because of the length and athletic ability of these three players.
Mark Vital was in foul trouble Saturday as he played only 15 minutes and scorer two points. He leads the Bears in rebounding at 7.1 per night and shoots 57.4 percent from the field. He has a tough hard-nosed mentality that along with Mitchell, can cause the Bulldogs trouble.
The offensive prowess of this team is well chronicled and it doesn’t feel like the Bears will back down from a track meet. Gonzaga’s possession length is 14.3 seconds per possession (3rd/NCAA) and Baylor’s possession defense is 17.7 seconds (250th/NCAA). This will be an interesting storyline and whomever can dictate these numbers should win. No one has been able to slow Suggs, Kispert (89 3s; 44.5%-3) and company on that perimeter. They shoot 37 percent on the year as Baylor is navigable as offensive have made 34.9 percent of their triples.
Key Bulldogs Stat:
During Mark Few’s coaching career, the Bulldogs are 29-7 as the higher seed and they are 22-3 since 2009. Gonzaga has only lost three times against a lower seed in the span of 11 tournaments.
Andrew Nembhard has come up strong for the Bulldogs in the last three games as he has averaged 11.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game while making 14-of-25 shots. He has also accrued 36 or more minutes in his last four games.
WINNER: Gonzaga (-4½) 86, Baylor 80