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It’s the Final We All Wanted

Bears Ready to Maul Undefeated 'Zags for Title

It has been two years in the making but Monday’s College Basketball Final sees the Gonzaga Bulldogs vs Baylor Bears matchup.

Gonzaga and Baylor have been the best teams for the last two seasons, so it’s fantastic they meet for the NCAA Championship. The Bulldogs are shooting for an unbeaten season; the Baylor Bears are more than capable of producing an upset.

Jalen Suggs of the Gonzaga Bulldogs shoots a game-winning three point basket in overtime to defeat the UCLA Bruins 93-90
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFP

Lucas Oil Stadium is the final March Madness venue for the season and all eyes will be on the stars Monday at 9:20 p.m. ET.

Since online sports betting lines opened, there has been steady two-way action. We expect a competitive betting market until tip-off.

Undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs?

Not since Indiana in 1975-76 has a team gone undefeated in men’s college basketball and won the title. The Gonzaga Bulldogs are vying to become the eighth team in history to achieve the feat.

Looking to match the 32-0 record of Indiana and North Carolina (1957), Gonzaga could make history and reward its loyal fan base. The Bulldogs have been on the cusp of achieving something monumental and 2021 could be their year.

It almost came unstuck in the Final Four against UCLA. The Bruins tied the game at 90-90 in the final seconds of overtime but Jalen Suggs made a 3-pointer from inside the midcourt line at the buzzer to keep the dream alive.

Losing to UCLA would have been a rough way for the undefeated season to end, but this Gonzaga team knows how to fight. The Bulldogs were largely outplayed but champion teams find a way to push through and come out the other side.

A harder test awaits on Monday as they face the Baylor Bears. With an NBA-bound roster, the Bears will push Gonzaga to its limits.

Coach Mark Few spoke about the good things his team does following the win over Creighton earlier in the tournament.

“A couple things they do really well is they really, really absorb and take the scouting reports to hand,” Few told ESPN. “They do a great job with their attention to detail for the most part. They’ve grown in that area. I think Jalen has really grown.

“Hey, we’ve got big wings and big guards, big, strong, aggressive guards like Jalen and Andrew. So we can switch a lot. Drew can move his feet. Anton [Watson] can move his feet. So it’s always nice to have that option to be able to switch to go with all your other coverages.”

Two teams that like to share the ball square off in the final, so it should make for interesting viewing.

Baylor Bears Flex against Houston

As if bettors needed convincing about how good the Baylor Bears are, the win over Houston confirmed what we knew.

The Bears were outstanding beating Houston 78-59 on Saturday. Houston had shown great promise but Baylor made the Cougars look second rate.

Baylor knocked down shots consistently but it’s the defense that stood out. It’s one of the best defenses in college basketball and that could spell trouble for the Bulldogs.

Allowing an average of 60 points per game, scoring on Baylor is tough. Houston managed only 59 points and the Cougars were offensively talented. The same goes for Gonzaga, which scores 91.6 points per game, but how many will it score in the final?

If the Bears can clamp down on defense and do not allow any easy shots for Gonzaga, the title could be theirs. Slowing down the likes of Drew Timme and Suggs isn’t easy, but if any team is going to do it, it’s Baylor.

Losing two games throughout the season could have helped Baylor regain its focus. Coach Scott Drew believes it was a blessing in disguise.

“We lost to a very good Oklahoma State team in our conference tournament, which was a blessing, looking back, because we were able to practice and really get better at our defense, which at the end of the day we wouldn’t be here today if we [in the] second half didn’t lock down and do a really great job down that stretch,” Drew told ESPN.com.

What the Betting Tells Us

College basketball lines show Gonzaga as the 4½ favorite. We expected the line to be around that mark as it’s likely to be a close game. It could be decided on the final play, that’s how evenly matched these teams are.

Gonzaga is -200 in moneyline markets and we don’t think that line will move too much on game night. If the Bulldogs’ moneyline moves any shorter, expect to see late betting money come for Baylor the value odds.

Baylor is currently +170 and that represents value. National Championship games are played at a slightly different tempo than other March Madness contests, which could favor Baylor.

The total has been set at 159½ points. That means a high-scoring game is expected, despite Baylor allowing 60 points and Gonzaga allowing 69.4 points per game.

How Have They Fared ATS?

Most of the betting action will be on the spread. It helps even out the game, but how have Baylor and Gonzaga fared against the spread this season?

From the 29 games Baylor has played, it’s 19-10-0 against the spread. The Bears have been heavy favorites in the majority of those games, but they are underdogs for the final.

Gonzaga is 16-13-2 from its 31 games. Much like Baylor, the Bulldogs have been significant favorites for the majority of those games.

Both teams are 6-4 ATS from their last 10 games.

We have compiled the key betting trends. Each team has positive and negative trends, so we select the most important for bettors.

Gonzaga Bulldogs:

  • Bulldogs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as a favorite
  • Bulldogs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games as a favorite
  • Bulldogs are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games after scoring more than 90 points in their previous game.
  • Under is 6-2 in Bulldogs’ last 8 games following an ATS loss
  • Over is 40-18 in Bulldogs last 58 overall

Baylor Bears:

  • Bears are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 NCAA Tournament games
  • Bears are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a SU win
  • Bears are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games as an underdog
  • Over is 8-1 in Bears’ last 9 games following an ATS win
  • Over is 20-7 in Bears’ last 27 games as an underdog
  • Underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings (Gonzaga vs Baylor)

Game Pick

Either team wouldn’t look out of place winning the National Championship.

There is a sense of destiny about this Gonzaga Bulldogs team, especially after Suggs hit the 3-pointer in overtime against UCLA. However, we’re keen to find the best value for bettors.

Baylor is a team that demands respect. It has NBA-level talent, and it doesn’t come with one or two players, it comes across the entire team.

NBA scouts are keen on Jared Butler and with good reason. He has been outstanding and teammates Davion Mitchell and Mark Vital have successful professional careers on the horizon.

We can’t overlook Baylor at +170 and at +4½. We suggest taking the points to be safe, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Baylor ended the dream season for Gonzaga.

Pick: Baylor Bears +4½ (-110)

Pick: Under 159½ (-110 )

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