Gonzaga vs. Baylor: Game Time, Odds and Predictions for NCAA Championship

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 4, 2021

Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (1) celebrates making the game winning basket against UCLA during overtime in a men's Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament semifinal game, Saturday, April 3, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Gonzaga won 93-90. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Gonzaga and Baylor have been the two best men's college basketball teams in the country all season. So it's fitting that either the Bulldogs or Bears will be cutting down the nets as the national champions Monday.

On Saturday, Gonzaga and Baylor won their respective Final Four contests to advance to the national championship game, which will take place Monday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Both teams are No. 1 seeds that have advanced through the NCAA tournament with impressive runs.

Not only is Gonzaga looking to become the first team to go undefeated and win the national title since Indiana in 1975-76, but the Bulldogs are also looking to win the first national championship in program history. Baylor has also never won a national title, and it hasn't reached the championship game since 1948.

Here's everything else you need to know about this year's national championship game.


Championship Game Information

Date: Monday, April 5

Start Time: 9:20 p.m. ET



Championship Game Odds

Spread: Gonzaga (-4.5)

Over/Under: 160 total points

Moneyline: Gonzaga -225 (bet $225 to win $100); Baylor +170 (bet $100 to win $170)

Via DraftKings Sportsbook.


Preview, Prediction

In an unorthodox season that has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Gonzaga has an opportunity to go down as one of the greatest teams of all time. After winning their first 31 games, the Bulldogs are one victory away from a national title.

Gonzaga was dominant to open the NCAA tournament, winning each of its first four games by at least 16 points. That wasn't anything new for the Bulldogs, who had won all but one of their games by 10 or more points heading into Saturday night.

However, Gonzaga faced its greatest test in its national semifinal against UCLA, a No. 11 seed that made a surprising run from the First Four to the Final Four. Not only did the Bruins take the Bulldogs to overtime, but they also tied the game at 90-90 when sophomore guard Johnny Juzang scored with 3.3 seconds remaining in the extra period.

Gonzaga ended up victorious, however, as freshman guard Jalen Suggs banked in a deep three-pointer as time expired to secure a 93-90 win. Now, the Bulldogs are in the national championship game for the second time in program history (the previous appearance came in 2017, when they lost to North Carolina).

Even though Gonzaga has been unbeatable, its final test won't be easy. Baylor has been rolling the past few weeks too.

"I think now they're back playing the way they were earlier this year," Bulldogs coach Mark Few said of the Bears, per ESPN's Jeff Borzello. "And so well coached. Stepping up, making shots. Playing great defense. ... We've got to get ready for a terrific Baylor team. And we're going to have to play great."

Baylor won its first 18 games of the season, but it had lost twice in a span of six games heading into the NCAA tournament, which included falling to Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the Big 12 tourney. But the Bears have bounced back with five straight wins, including a dominant 78-59 victory over No. 2-seeded Houston in the Final Four on Saturday.

If there's any team capable of beating Gonzaga, it could be Baylor.

However, there's a reason Gonzaga hasn't been beaten this season, and that's because it's a strong, well-rounded team. The Bulldogs have faced some tough competition, but they have still rarely been tested. Still, they are capable of pulling out wins in close games, which they proved against UCLA.

Expect Gonzaga's talented core of sophomore forward Drew Timme (19 points per game), senior forward Corey Kispert (18.9), Suggs (14) and junior guard Joel Ayayi (11.8) to be too much for Baylor to slow down. The group will lead the Bulldogs to the national title and an unblemished record, marking one of the best seasons in college basketball history.

Prediction: Gonzaga 77, Baylor 72


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