Nearly two years in the making, the 2021 NCAA Tournament National Championship is finally upon us.
The No. 1 overall seed and undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs will face off against fellow 1-seed Baylor, in what will be a ‘rematch’ from December’s unfortunate postponement between the two programs.
The two best teams all season, this is what college basketball fans have been bracing for since the pre-season AP Poll released in early November.
The ‘Zags opened as 5 point favorites, which later got bought down to a modest 4.5 where the line sits now, while the total has hovered around 159 for the better part of 36 hours.
There are a million ways to attack this game from a betting perspective, and we’ll do our best to break it all down below to get you ready for Monday’s matchup.
No. 1 Gonzaga (-4.5) vs No. 1 Baylor (+4.5, +175)
This seems like a pretty fool-proof line from Vegas, leaving just incentive for the public to take the ‘dog at +175, while also capturing plenty of action on the more comfortable play — which is the favorite at -4.5.
The ‘Zags have undoubtedly been the better team this season, pacing the nation at an uncanny 31-0, but their recent struggles against 11th-seeded UCLA could stir some indecision amongst bettors, as Baylor has suddenly become the hotter team after a decisive 19 point win over No. 2 Houston Saturday.
However, it doesn’t seem that Vegas got all too carried away with said recency bias, given their decision to spot the favorites 4.5 points for Monday’s game.
Defensively, I really like how Baylor matches up with Gonzaga, as their length and toughness inside will cause a bevvy of problems for Drew Timme (19.2 ppg) and company.
Scott Drew deploys an 8-man rotation featuring three key bench players in Adam Flagler (22.9 mpg), Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (19.4 mpg), and Matthew Mayer (15.7 mpg).
Tchamwa Tchatchoua often spells Flo Thamba, as neither sees the court at the same time, and is a terrific interior defender for Drew given his size and athleticism. He and Thamba will likely be tasked with slowing down the aforementioned Gonzaga big man, while Mark Vital and Mayer get the assignment of sharp-shooter Corey Kispert (18.8 ppg, 44.5% 3PT).
Meanwhile, Baylor’s guards — Davion Mitchell, Jared Butler, and MaCio Teague — will likely have the advantage (in my eyes, at least) on both sides of the floor, as all three are incredibly capable perimeter defenders, and can score the ball as well.
The offense will run through Mitchell and Butler, while Teague will be called upon to hit big shots from the outside, something he’s done at an admirable clip (38.9% 3PT) this season.
The Bears should have no problem scoring, especially after seeing the Bruins hang 90 on the ‘Zags this past Saturday, putting increased pressure on their defense to get it done tonight.
I think they do just enough defensively, keeping this game somewhere in the 70s, and will cut down the nets in dramatic fashion tonight, 78-76.
The Pick: Baylor +4.5, +175 ML, u159
Player Prop to Consider:
Davion Mitchell over 13.5 points (-120)
Andrew Nembhard under 9.5 points (-105)
Corey Kispert over 2.5 3PT FG’s (-120)
Jalen Suggs over 1.5 3PT FG’s (+110)
Adam Flagler under 8.5 points (-130)
*All odds according to FanDuel