There hasn’t been an undefeated national champion in almost 50 years, a feat that just seven teams have ever achieved. Monday night, Gonzaga will be looking to add their name to that list and make an imprint on college basketball history.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 93-90 overtime win over the UCLA Bruins thanks to a nearly half-court banked-in buzzer-beater by freshman guard Jalen Suggs.
“It’s amazing. Stuff like this is something you dream up as a kid and you practice on a mini hoop,” “But it was a great shot. Crazy shot. It was special.”
– Jalen Suggs
Baylor is the only thing standing in the way of history Monday night. The Bears steamed rolled the 2nd seeded Houston Cougars 78-59. A game that honestly wasn’t even close from the jump. Baylor was getting anything they wanted on the offensive end and shut down virtually everyone outside of Marcus Sasser.
“Coach Brooks did a great job on the scout. I think we were prepared. And really our guys did a great job buying into — locking in on assignments and tendencies. And Coach Sampson, you know he’s going to make adjustments. He’s a great coach.
-Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew
According to Caesars Palace Sportsbook, the line opened Gonzaga -4.5 and has been fluctuating anywhere now between 5 to 5.5. With both teams combining for a 35-23 record against the spread, something is going to have to give.
Why Gonzaga can cover
The Zags have rolled through the competition all season long, leading the nation in offensive efficiency, along with a combined total margin of victory over 22.5 points. Sophomore center Drew Timmie has led the way through the tournament, averaging over 22 points a game. Head Coach Mark Few has been running everything through Timmie this tournament from utilizing him in the high screen and roll or dumping it down to him in the post, it is all going through him.
Guard Jalen Suggs can create any shot he wants off the dribble and has excellent vision to dish it out if his shot isn’t there. All-American Corey Kispert has been a little sluggish this tournament but still has big shot capability and with his expanded range spaces the floor out for the Zags to operate.
Why Baylor can cover
Speed, Athleticism, and Grit. The Bears are led by veteran guards Jared Butler, Macio Teague, and Davion Mitchell who earn their keep forcing turnovers and getting out in transition. Butler the team’s leading scorer led the way for the Bears with 17 in the first half vs Houston.
Teague and Mitchell can get their own as well, both having games in which they eclipsed 30 points this season. The Bears are also the nation’s top three-point shooting team, shooting over 41% collectively as a team. Pairing perfectly with a team known for forcing turnovers and creating run-outs.
Finally the matchup we’ve all been waiting for, the undisputed best two teams in the country will finally meet for all the stakes. In order for a Baylor straight-up win they will have to contain Drew Timmie in the post while also containing the guards on the perimeter. UCLA laid out the blueprint, play with a slower pace and pick your spots when they present themselves.
Ultimately, I believe Gonzaga pulls off the historic undefeated season. I’m going to lay the -5 with the Zags but keeping a close eye on the line. Anything -6 or over I will be looking at the Bears to not in but keep this thing close.