It might not be the way Gonzaga expected to win in the Final Four, but they're now one win away from an undefeated season, thanks to a desperate buzzer-beater from Jalen Suggs in overtime against the UCLA Bruins.
We’re finally down to two teams, as No. 1 seed’s Gonzaga and Baylor will fight for the National Championship on Monday night in Indianapolis. With no NCAA Tournament titles in either schools’ histories, which team will finally win on college basketball’s biggest stage an earn the right to cut down the nets, and which team will be forced to put their scissors away for at least one more year?
Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Baylor Bears NCAA Tournament Point Spread and Betting
As they have been for every game this season, Gonzaga is the favourite on the college basketball odds. The Bulldogs’ -4.5 point spread hasn’t budged yet and it’s unlikely it will move much, if at all. The total has dipped slightly to 159.5, but that could see more movement before tip-off. It’s worth noting, both these teams have trended to the Over this season. Gonzaga has hit the Over in eight of their last 12 games and six straight games against Big 12 opponents. Baylor has gone above the number in three of their last four tournament games and 14 of their last 17 games overall. The Final Four was the only game the Bulldogs failed to cover in, this tournament. The Bears have also covered in four of their five tournament games.
(1) Gonzaga Bulldogs
It might not be the way Gonzaga expected to win in the Final Four, but they’re now one win away from an undefeated season, thanks to a desperate buzzer-beater from Jalen Suggs in overtime against the UCLA Bruins. The biggest issues for the Bulldogs in this game will be depth. Four of their five starters played over 40 minutes against UCLA, so it will be crucial for their bench players to contribute. The Bulldogs shoot 63.9 per cent inside the arc, No. 1 in the nation, and have options all over the court. Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi can nail daggers from deep. They also have Suggs, who is a creative attacker and can confuse defences. Finally, Drew Timme will score seemingly anytime he touches the ball. This is a dangerous team that has tasted a little perseverance and a lot of dominance. The only thing left for Gonzaga to taste now, is a National Championship.
(1) Baylor Bears
It will be interesting to see how Baylor handles their toughest opponent of the year. The Bears haven’t had much resistance in the tournament and have rolled past all five teams they faced. That shows just how good they are, but also leaves them a little bit untested when it comes to perseverance. Baylor’s big three of Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague are averaging a combined 40.8 points per game in the NCAA Tournament and are helping the team shoot 41.3 per cent from beyond the arc. They rely heavily on their guards and all five starters are averaging 39.6 per cent from 3-point range. If there was ever one team that was going to take down Gonzaga this year, it the Baylor Bears.
Three Key Matchups
Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga) vs. Jared Butler (Baylor)
Suggs will likely never hit a bigger shot in his career than the 3-point buzzer-beater he hit in overtime from just past centre court in the Final Four. A projected top-three pick in the NBA draft, Suggs is explosive and fast. He’s a tough defender and his physicality can overwhelm opponents. On the other side of the court, Butler is a candidate for National Player of the Year. He’s averaging a team-high 16.5 points and 2.0 steals per game and shoots 41.3 per cent from beyond the arc. When his shooting gets hot, he can put games away quickly, but he might be overmatched by Suggs.
Corey Kispert (Gonzaga) vs. Mark Vital (Baylor)
Kispert is one of the few fourth-year players on Gonzaga. He’s second on the team with 18.8 points per game and his added value as a calming veteran presence is underrated. Kispert’s physicality will be tested against Mark Vital, who leads Baylor with 6.5 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game.
Drew Timme (Gonzaga) vs. Flo Thamba (Baylor)
This will be a tough matchup for Flo Thamba, as Timme is one of the best centre’s in the nation. Timme had a team-high 25 points against UCLA and scored the first six points of overtime. Thamba often splits minutes with Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and likely won’t match up well against the bigger, stronger, Timm.