#1 Baylor vs. #1 Gonzaga national championship game

#1 Baylor vs. #1 Gonzaga national championship game | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

For only the ninth time in NCAA Tournament history, it’s a matchup of No. 1 seeds in the national championship game as Baylor faces Gonzaga on Monday from Indy. The Zags look to join a historic group by finishing unbeaten and are favored on the NCAAB odds.

How to Bet Baylor vs. Gonzaga NCAA Basketball Odds & TV InfoLast Meeting

The schools were supposed to play Dec. 5 also in Indianapolis but it was canceled for COVID reasons. BU seeks its first win vs. Gonzaga (0-5), first vs. a No. 1-ranked team (0-8) and first vs. a No. 1 seed (0-3). Monday is the 9th time two No. 1 seeds have met for the title (’82, ’93, ’99, ’05, ’07, ’08, ’15, ’17).  Monday is the 4th time the AP’s top-2 preseason teams will meet for the title (1962, 1965, 1999) and the 2nd time teams which were AP top-3 all season meet for the title (1962 Cincinnati vs. Ohio State).

Why Bet on Gonzaga?

The Zags had (31-0) beaten every team but one this season by double digits but escaped No. 11 UCLA 93-90 in overtime on Saturday thanks to Jalen Suggs’ epic buzzer-beating banked-in three-pointer from about 40 feet as time expired. That will be remembered forever. This will surely be Suggs’ final game in college as he’s expected to turn pro and be a Top 5 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

UCLA was the first team to lead Gonzaga in the second half over five games of tournament play and had a chance to win at the end of regulation. With the game tied at 81, Johnny Juzang was taking it hard to the hoop in the final seconds, when Zags forward Drew Timme, playing with four fouls, stepped into the paint, planted his feet and took a charge.

Gonzaga is the first team to bring an undefeated record into the championship game since Larry Bird and Indiana State in 1979. Bird lost that game to Magic Johnson and Michigan State. It means Gonzaga could become the first team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers to go undefeated.

The Zags are 39-22 all-time in the NCAA Tournament with now 11 trips to the Sweet 16, five trips to the Elite Eight, two Final Fours and two appearances in the national championship game. Gonzaga is the only program that has been in the last six Sweet 16s. The Bulldogs received a one-seed for the fourth time in program history. They are the top-overall seed for the first time ever. Gonzaga is the first program in NCAA Div. I history to have five straight 30-win seasons.

The Zags’ 35 straight wins (a new program record) dating back to last season is the longest active streak in nation, along with its 14 straight victories on a neutral court. GU is first in the nation in scoring offense (91.6), field goal percentage (55.0), two-point percentage (63.9), scoring margin (22.5) and points in the paint (49.6).

Why Bet on Baylor?

Baylor (27-2) had no trouble with No. 2 Houston in the Final Four, 78-59. In the first-ever Final Four matchup of Texas teams, Jared Butler hit four 3-pointers and scored all 17 of his points in a dominant first half as the Bears earned a spot in their first national championship game in 73 years.

Led by Butler, who was 4-of-5 from outside the arc and 6-of-8 overall, Baylor shot 57 percent in the first half, took a double-digit lead in the first 10 minutes and never let up. By the time Davion Mitchell hit a step-back buzzer-beating 3-pointer, the Bears had the largest halftime lead in a Final Four game in 18 years (45-20) and fourth-largest in history.

“That first half was about as well as any team could play against Houston,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew.

The Bears have committed only 28 turnovers over the last 4 games, including 12 live-ball turnovers. Baylor has had 4 different leading scorers in its last 4 games (Matthew Mayer, Adam Flagler, MaCio Teague and Butler). BU is averaging a +8.4 turnover margin in the NCAA Tournament (7.6 TOs/game, 16 TOs forced/gm).

Baylor has won 23 straight non-conference games (+21.6 average margin) dating back to November 2020. Baylor is 10-2 vs. AP Top 25 teams this season, including 6-0 against AP Top 10 teams.

BU leads the nation in 3-point percentage (.412) and is top-10 nationally in scoring margin (3rd, +17.5), scoring (6th, 82.8), turnover margin (3rd, +5.5), defensive turnover pct. (3rd, 24.6), effective FG% (4th, 56.7), offensive rebound pct. (6th, 36.9), steals (9th, 8.9) and turnovers forced (9th, 17.1).

Game Trends
  • Bulldogs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games.
  • Bulldogs are 19-9-1 ATS in their last 29 Monday games.
  • Bulldogs are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games after scoring more than 90 points in their previous game.
  • Bears are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games as an underdog.
  • Bears are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 neutral site games as an underdog.
  • Bears are 34-16-2 ATS in their last 52 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
Expert Prediction
  • Gonzaga 83, Baylor 81
 
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