NCAAB: And Then There Were Two
College Basketball Final
April 2, 2021
Baylor (1) vs. Gonzaga (1) -4.5: It was these two teams that were in the finals the most according to March Madness brackets around the country, and indeed, it is the matchup we have been waiting for since the season started. While some other teams had some great performances, it is undeniable that Baylor and Gonzaga were consistently the two best teams in the country over the entire season. Now, they will meet for the NCAA Championship in a fitting end to a thrilling March madness tournament.
The line opened at Gonzaga -4.5 just minutes after Jalen Suggs hit the buzzer beater shot in overtime that catapulted the Bulldogs into the finals over UCLA. Sports bettors and media alike asked this question all season long: ‘what would the line be between Baylor and Gonzaga?’ Well now we have it. The total is a staggering 159.5, which is indicative of two things: Gonzaga and Baylor have potentially the two most efficient offenses in the country, and retail bettors love to be the overs.
On paper it is a matchup between the first and second best adjusted offenses in the nation according to KenPom, although the Bulldogs do have an edge with the eighth best defense compared to Baylor who ranks 27th. We know Gonzaga loves to push the pace in games so we’ll see if Baylor plays up tempo, or if they try to keep things under control. One significant advantage is how good the Bears have been from beyond the arch this season, ranking first in the country in 3PT FG%, as well as 14th with 10.0 3PT FGs per game. We know UCLA was also an excellent 3PT shooting team and managed to shoot 8/17 from downtown, something Gonzaga can't let Baylor do.
In the end, this may come down to who has the deeper team from start to finish. While Baylor has the high end talent with Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell, Gonzaga counters with a balanced scoring lineup from 1 to 5 of veteran players who play excellent on ball defense that could frustrate Baylor. This is the last hurrah for some of these Gonzaga players, so expect them to leave everything on the floor, in what would be Gonzaga’s first ever NCAA Championship, a thrilling accomplishment for a non power conference team. The Bulldogs are also vying to be the first team to have a perfect season since Indiana pulled it off in 1976. Baylor on the other hand is in the NCAA finals for the first time in the school’s 71-year history, and while historically they have been known as a football school, Baylor is putting Texas basketball back on the map.
Don’t be fooled by how both teams looked in the Final Four matchups. Baylor had little problem dispatching Houston by a score of 78-59, while Gonzaga needed overtime and a buzzer beater shot from almost half court to beat UCLA. I expect money to come in on Baylor just by how these teams played in their last game. That’s why I am waiting to get the best number I can on Gonzaga, and laying the points.
Our Pick: Gonzaga -4.5 or better, and the under 159.5
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