Baylor vs. Gonzaga NCAA Tournament Championship Game Preview

Jalen Suggs #1 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs celebrates with teammates after making a game-winning three point basket. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

Jalen Suggs #1 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs celebrates with teammates after making a game-winning three point basket. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

Baylor Bears vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Monday, April 05, 2021 – 09:20 PM EDT at Lucas Oil Stadium

 Teams

  • Gonzaga Bulldogs (1): 31-0
  • Baylor Bears (1): 27-2

 

Stakes of the Matchup

On Monday, the National Championship game will be played between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Baylor Bears. For the 2020-2021 season, 347 college basketball teams played and currently only two have a chance of winning the championship. Shockingly the two best teams for the whole season are the two remaining teams in the championship after going undefeated in their first five NCAA Tournament games.

Gonzaga plays in the West Coast Conference (WCC) which is rated as the 7th strongest conference in the country according to basketball analytics website KenPom. Baylor plays in the Big-12 which is rated as the 2nd strongest conference. The question that has been asked all season that will be answered in the championship game is whether a big fish in a small pond in Gonzaga can win the championship? Or will it be a blue-chip program in Baylor that plays in a major conference?

Baylor played this season in the Big 12 which has ten teams despite the misleading name. Of those ten teams, seven of them made the NCAA tournament. While playing in a difficult conference, the Bears lost only one regular season game and a conference tournament game. The million-dollar question is if Gonzaga would be undefeated if they played Baylor’s schedule. Based on how the Zags played against quality teams this season, the answer is probably yes.

How Gonzaga and Baylor Match Up

There is not a real weakness that can be attacked by either Gonzaga or Baylor. The Zags had the best offense in the country this season and the Bears had the second-best offense. On defense the Gonzaga has a slight edge as they have the 8th best adjusted defensive efficiency in the country and Baylor has the 27th best adjusted defensive efficiency this season.

What the game comes down to is how Baylor will react to Gonzaga’s up-tempo offense. The Bulldogs not only play at the 7th fastest adjusted tempo, but they play well at that tempo. Only Alabama and Arkansas this season are the other teams that have played good basketball at as fast of a tempo as Gonzaga.

Baylor while not an up-tempo team like Gonzaga, played Arkansas in the Elite 8. In that game, Baylor won 81-72 and handled themselves well. However, against the best up-tempo Big 12 team Oklahoma State, Baylor lost to them in the Big 12 conference tournament.

Prediction

A cogent argument can be made for betting on either side of this game as both teams have been the best two teams in all of college basketball. However, Gonzaga is clearly the best team and they should easily win.

DraftKings has a promo where they boost the Gonzaga +4.5 spread to +100 and that is a no brainer to bet even if the most that you can get down on that bet is only $25.

As far as the regular spread is concerned, I like Gonzaga to cover as a 4.5 point favorite. During the regular season, the Zags won each game on average by 22.5 points, the best in the country. When Gonzaga wins which it has done in every game this season, it is almost always by double digits. Saturday’s Final Four game against UCLA was an exception to the rule as Gonzaga only won off an epic OT buzzer beater. The Bulldogs should dominate the Bears and I believe that they will cover the spread.

College Basketball Pick: Gonzaga Spread -4.5 (-105) (PointsBet) and Gonzaga Spread +4.5 (+100) (DraftKings Promo)

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