After a cancelled tournament and a tumultuous season, the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs finally get a chance to make history when they face the No. 3 Baylor Bears Monday night on CBS in the National Championship Game at the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga (31-0) can become the seventh team, and the first since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers, to go unbeaten if it can win its first national title. The Zags lead the nation in scoring and shooting percentage, but they were taken to the brink by 11th-seeded UCLA in the semifinal Saturday before winning 93-90 on a desperation 3-pointer. Baylor (27-2) also is seeking its first championship and is the nation's best 3-point shooting team and plays impressive defense.
Tip-off is scheduled for 9:20 p.m. ET at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. William Hill Sportsbook lists the Bulldogs as a 4.5-point favorite in its latest Baylor vs. Gonzaga odds, and the over-under for total points scored is 159.5. Before finalizing any Baylor vs. Gonzaga picks, be sure to see the Gonzaga vs. Baylor prediction and betting advice from SportsLine's Matt Severance.
A well-connected writer and handicapper who has worked in the industry since 2005, Severance is on a stunning run and called UCLA to cover vs. Gonzaga in the Final Four. He is on a blistering 138-101 roll on college basketball picks against the spread, returning $2,674 to $100 bettors during that span. Anyone who has followed him is way up.
Now, he has set his sights on Baylor vs. Gonzaga in the 2021 NCAA Tournament National Championship Game. You can head to SportsLine to see his picks. Here are several college basketball odds and trends for Gonzaga vs. Baylor:
- Gonzaga vs. Baylor spread: Gonzaga -4.5
- Gonzaga vs. Baylor over-under: 159.5 points
- Gonzaga vs. Baylor money line: Gonzaga -190, Baylor +170
- ZAGS: The Bulldogs have won 14 straight neutral-site games
- BAY: The Bears are 19-10 against the spread this season
Why Gonzaga can cover
Gonzaga is 4-1 against the spread in the NCAA Tournament 2021, and it scores more than 92 points and shoots better than 55 percent, leading the nation in both categories. A talented core featuring forwards Drew Timme and Corey Kispert and guards Jalen Suggs and Joel Ayayi present matchup problems everywhere. Timme poured in 25 points Saturday, and Suggs scored 16 and hit the winning shot at the buzzer. Ayayi scored 22 and Kispert had 15, and all four grabbed at least four rebounds. Andrew Nembhard had 11 points as all five starters hit double figures.
With plenty of reliable options, the Bulldogs spread the ball around, ranking second in the nation with 18.3 assists, and they shoot 46.5 percent from 3-point range. Kispert hits 44.7 percent from outside, which is fifth in the nation, and Ayayi (39.4), Suggs (33.3) and Nembhard (33.3) all hit at least a third of their tries. Four Bulldogs starters average at least five boards, led by Timme (7.1) and Ayayi (7.0), as they outrebound opponents by eight per game. Nearly half of Timme's come on the offensive end (72 of 147), and the sophomore's tenacity rubs off on his teammates.
Why Baylor can cover
While the Bears are the nation's sixth-highest scoring team, their chances of slowing Gonzaga's high-octane offense may hinge on a defense that has limited four NCAA opponents to 63 points or fewer. Junior Davion Mitchell, named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year on Friday, likely will be assigned to guard Suggs in one of the more intriguing individual matchups. Mitchell earned the nickname "Off Night" for his ability to take an opponent out of his game.
His defensive wizardry aside, Mitchell shoots a team-high 45.3 percent from 3-point range, leads the Bears in assists (5.5 per game) and is third in scoring (14.0). He registered a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) and was 3 of 6 from behind the arc vs. Houston (12 points, 11 rebounds) while sparking a defense that held the Cougars to 20 first-half points. Baylor owns a plus-42 turnover margin for the tournament, the highest since Kentucky in 1996.
How to make Baylor vs. Gonzaga picks
Severance is leaning over on the total and he's found a critical X-factor that has him jumping all over one side of the spread. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Gonzaga vs. Baylor? And which critical X-factor makes one side hit hard? Visit SportsLine right now to see which side of the Baylor vs. Gonzaga spread you need to jump on, all from expert who has crushed his college basketball picks.