No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. No. 1 Baylor Bears Betting Preview
Line: Gonzaga -4.5
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium
When: Monday, 4/5, at 9:20 p.m. ET
Saturday night’s Final Four bout between top-seeded Gonzaga and eleventh-seeded UCLA is already being deemed one of the greatest games in NCAA Tournament history.
Monday night’s title tilt might be one of the most anticipated matchups of all-time. The Bulldogs escaped the Bruins upset bid on a buzzer beater, setting up a meeting with fellow No. 1-seed Baylor in the championship.
This matchup has seemingly been in the works for months—maybe even years. Both teams would have been near the top of the list of favorites heading into the 2020 NCAA Tournament prior to its cancellation. They were also scheduled to meet on Dec. 5, but that game was also canceled.
College basketball fans will finally be able to watch the heavyweights square off for all the marbles at Lucas Oil Stadium. Gonzaga enters as the top-ranked offense in the sport, while Baylor is ranked second.
Circa Sports listed the Bulldogs at -5.5 in the theoretical matchup between these teams heading into the Final Four. The line was bumped down to -5 following Baylor’s dominant 78-59 win over second-seeded Houston in Saturday’s first semifinal game.
Gonzaga got off to a slow start against UCLA, which caused the betting line for a potential matchup with Baylor to move to -4 late in the first half. Once the Bulldogs hit the buzzer beater to advance to the title game, Circa officially opened the line at -4.5, which is where it currently sits. The total opened at 160 and has seen some slight movement down to 159.5.
Baylor has not been an underdog since March 7 of last season, where it lost as a 1.5-point ‘dog at West Virginia. The Bears are coming off one of the most impressive performances of this year’s NCAA Tournament, jumping out to a large lead and cruising to a 19-point win over Houston as 5-point favorites.
Junior guard Jared Butler scored 17 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists in the win. He is shooting 41.5% from beyond the arc this season and paces an offense that is the top 3-point shooting team in the country.
Senior guard MaCio Teague averages 15.8 points and 4.0 rebounds on 47.6% shooting. Junior guard Davion Mitchell is known as the best defender in the country, but he has scored in double figures in every game since late February. He has made or assisted on 42% of the team’s field goals over the last three games.
They will face a Gonzaga defense that is eighth in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings. Gonzaga was on the ropes throughout Saturday’s Final Four matchup against No. 11-seed UCLA, who would find an answer for any question thrown its way.
The Bruins went blow-for-blow until the final whistle, but Jalen Suggs’ overtime buzzer beater from just inside half-court marked the end of a Cinderella run that was extremely profitable for bettors. Gonzaga will now bring the country’s top offense to Monday’s title game.
The Bulldogs are No. 1 in 2-point field goal percentage, led by sophomore forward Drew Timme. He is averaging 19.2 points and 7.1 rebounds, shooting a scorching 65.4% from the floor. Timme scored 25 points against UCLA and is in line to win the Most Outstanding Player award if his team cuts down the nets.
Senior forward Corey Kispert is scoring 18.8 points and is grabbing 5.0 rebounds. He is shooting a blazing 44.5% from the 3-point line. Suggs is adding 14.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists. He is a bonafide lottery pick and is now a well-known commodity following his heroic shot on Saturday.
Baylor is 6-1 against-the-spread in its last seven games as an underdog, although it has not been in this position in more than a year. Gonzaga is 4-1 ATS in its last five games and has gone ‘over’ the total in eight of its last 12 games. Baylor has gone ‘over’ in 14 of its last 17 contests.
The pick: Baylor +4.5
There is an immense amount of pressure on Gonzaga entering this game with a perfect season on the line. The Bulldogs were expected to roll in Saturday’s Final Four matchup, but they wound up with one of the most emotional college basketball finishes of the century. They have a height advantage in this matchup, but Baylor has learned how to keep teams out of the interior and it does an excellent job of forcing turnovers. The Bears have more experience at the guard position and were able to coast in the second half of their win over Houston. I am struggling to pick a winner of this game, so I’ll take the 4.5 points with Baylor in what everyone hopes is a classic.