And we are down to just one game in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We have two No. 1 seeds going at it, with the Gonzaga Bulldogs of the WCC locking horns with Big 12’s Baylor Bears.
The Zags and the Bears were scheduled to meet in a non-conference tussle early in the season, but COVID-19 got in the way. The good news is that this game is going to happen after all. Read our preview of this game and make picks right after!
Catch this game live on Tuesday, April 6, at 9:20 AM, Manila time.
Baylor Bears (27-2 overall/13-1 Big 12)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Davion Mitchell
- SG: Adam Flagler
- SF: MaCio Teague
- PF: Mark Vital
- C: Flo Thamba
Baylor barely broke a sweat in dismantling the Houston Cougars in the Final Four to the tune of a 78-59 score. The Bears got hot early offensively and did not hold back from digging a deeper hole for Houston, which had no answer for Baylor’s scoring onslaught. Baylor is a way better offensive team than UCLA, which shot 57.6 FG% against Gonzaga.
This time, Gonzaga isn’t just going to worry about a single scoring threat like Johnny Juzang in the Final Four. Rather, the Bulldogs will have their hands full containing the Bears’ three-headed monster of Davion Mitchell, Jared Butler, and MaCio Teague, who combined for 8 of the team’s 11 threes against Houston. Speaking of which, Baylor’s 3-point shooting could be a nightmare for the Bulldogs’ defense that allowed UCLA to shoot 47.1% from deep.
All season long, the Bears have displayed incredible outside shooting, making 41.2% of their threes, and if Gonzaga will want a shootout on Tuesday, don’t expect Baylor to back down. Baylor is fourth nationally with a 56.7 eFG% and 12th with a 48.8 FG%.
Baylor can also get it done defensively. Mitchell, the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, should play a key role in trying to slow down Gonzaga’s offense by hounding Jalen Suggs in the backcourt.
The Bears, who are seventh overall with a 17.1 defensive TO%, are 4-1 ATS since the start of the tournament.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (31-0 overall/15-0 WCC)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Jalen Suggs
- SG: Andrew Nembhard
- SF: Joel Ayayi
- PF: Corey Kispert
- C: Drew Timme
The Bulldogs had a huge scare in the Final Four, but Jalen Suggs made sure that they were not going to be added to the list of UCLA’s victims by draining one of the greatest shots in NCAA Tournament history.
Suggs certainly bolstered his NBA stock with the show he put up in Gonzaga’s 93-90 win over the Bruins, finishing with 16 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Baylor will plan around stopping the future NBA lottery pick guard, but the Bulldogs are more than just about Suggs.
Corey Kispert, Drew Timme, Joel Ayayi, and Andrew Nembhard round out Gonzaga’s starting five which is mostly responsible for the team’s dizzying average of 91.6 points per game.
The 6-10 Timme dominated against UCLA’s frontcourt, and he projects to make a living in the paint again versus the Bears, whose big man plays less impressively than their guards. Timme, who had 25 points against UCLA, is 11th in the nation with a 66.2 eFG% and 12th with a 67.5 TS%.
No team has yet to have success against Gonzaga’s efficient offense in the tournament. The Bulldogs have shot 54.6 FG% and 39.1 3FG% in their last five games.
Gonzaga is 4-1-1 ATS in its last six games after failing to cover in the previous outing.
Each team will get to string together nice scoring runs, as I expect this to be a back-and-forth affair. But Gonzaga’s loaded starting unit will outweigh Baylor’s trio of Mitchell, Teague, and Butler in the end. Take Gonzaga (-4.5) to win and cover.
Gonzaga and Baylor differ in preferred pace of play. The Zags like it faster, while the Bears are more deliberate with their setups on offense. Both teams can definitely score, though. They’re No. 1 and 2 in adjusted offensive efficiency, respectively. Take the total to hit the over (159.0)