NCAA Men's Tournament 2021: Title Game Odds, March Madness Bracket ReviewApril 4, 2021
When the field for the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament was set four weeks ago, there were 68 teams entering March Madness with national championship aspirations. Now, there are only two. And it's not surprising that either has reached this point.
Gonzaga and Baylor are the last two teams standing, and the schools will now face off in the national title game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Monday night. The Bulldogs are 31-0 and have an opportunity to complete a perfect season. The Bears are 27-2 and have bounced back in strong fashion after coming up short in the Big 12 tournament early last month.
It's guaranteed that March Madness will be ending with a first-time national champion. Neither of these teams has ever won a title and each has only reached this point once before. Gonzaga lost to North Carolina in the national championship game in 2017, while Baylor lost to Kentucky in 1948.
Here are the current odds for this matchup, followed by a look at how these team each got here.
National Championship Game Odds
Spread: Gonzaga (-4.5)
Over/Under: 159.5 total points
Moneyline: Gonzaga -210 (bet $210 to win $100); Baylor +165 (bet $100 to win $165)
March Madness Bracket Review
There hasn't been a team to go undefeated and win the national championship since Indiana in the 1975-76 season. But Gonzaga is now on the brink of history after rolling through the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 overall seed.
The Bulldogs rolled big against No. 16-seeded Norfolk State in the first round, winning 98-55. They followed that up with an 87-71 victory over No. 8-seeded Oklahoma in the second round and an 83-65 win over No. 5-seeded Creighton in the Sweet 16.
Even once the tournament field was down to eight teams, Gonzaga still wasn't having issues rolling past its competition. It defeated No. 6-seeded USC handily in the Elite Eight round, cruising to an 85-66 win to secure the second Final Four appearance in program history.
The Bulldogs, who had won 29 of their first 30 games this season by at least 10 points, finally faced a true test in the national semifinals on Saturday night. No. 11-seeded UCLA made a surprise run from the First Four to the Final Four, and it was up to the task of giving Gonzaga a competitive game.
The Bulldogs and Bruins went to overtime, and the game was tied with 3.3 seconds remaining in the extra period before Gonzaga freshman guard Jalen Suggs received an inbounds pass, dribbled up just past midcourt and banked in a deep three-pointer to win the game.
"We were lucky enough to hit a 50-footer," Bulldogs coach Mark Few said, per Eddie Pells of the Associated Press. "So it helps when you have a magical, special guy like Jalen, special at the end of games."
Whether it was luck, skill or a combination of both, Gonzaga is now one win away from the national championship and making history with an unblemished record. But the Bulldogs will be facing a team capable of spoiling things for them.
Baylor won its first 18 games of the season, but it lost twice in a six-game span prior to the NCAA tournament.They lost to Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the Big 12 tourney, falling short of winning the event for the first time in program history.
However, Baylor could more than make up for that by winning its first national title. And it's been playing well during its run to reach this point.
The Bears beat No. 16-seeded Hartford 79-55 in the opening round. Then, they defeated No. 9-seeded Wisconsin 76-63 in the second round and beat No. 5-seeded Villanova 62-51 in the Sweet 16.
With an 81-72 victory over No. 3-seeded Arkansas in the Elite Eight round, Baylor reached the Final Four for the third time in program history and for the first time since 1950. Once there, the Bears had no trouble securing a spot in the national title game, as they cruised to a 78-59 win over No. 2-seeded Houston in a semifinal matchup on Saturday.
"Every day you're grinding, and you don’t really look back. You're pressing forward,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said, per Dave Skretta of the Associated Press, "but I'm so blessed to have these unbelievable players that bought into what we like to do with the program."
Now, Gonzaga and Baylor will play each other for the sixth time. Each of the previous five meetings between the two schools have been won by the Bulldogs, including an 83-71 victory on March 23, 2019, which was a second-round matchup in the NCAA tournament.
Will Gonzaga notch another win and finish 32-0, or can Baylor cap off its own impressive season with a championship? We'll soon find out.
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