Gonzaga vs Baylor: Preview of the NCAA National Championship
Monday night's title game features two teams that are searching for their National Championship in program history. Tip off is at on Monday night at 9:20 ET
It’s the biggest game in the Big Dance, and Monday night we will crown the new kings of college basketball almost 2 years after Virginia took home the title in Minneapolis. Gonzaga (30-0) and Baylor (27-2) will go toe to toe in the National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday night.
Baylor used their vacuum sealed defense to smother Houston in the first of the two semi-final games. Scott Drew’s side came out looking to prove a point against one of the nations top defensive sides.
They did so by holding the Cougars to a Final Four record low 20 points in the first half. Led by Jared Butler’s 17 first half points Baylor went into the halftime break up by 25. The Bears kept Houston at a distance the rest of the way and cruised into the Final.
Gonzaga had their first real test all season in their semi-final match against UCLA. Neither team were able to take command of the scoreboard, and 40 minutes were not enough to decide a winner. In a game that featured 19 lead changes it came down to the final shot, and what a final shot it was from Jalen Suggs who drained a half court buzzer beater to cement Gonzaga’s place in Monday’s final.
Baylor have rolled through the tournament, winning all five games by 9 points or more. The undefeated Bulldogs have won 28 of their 30 games by 10 points or more, and proved they can win those tight games late in the second half against UCLA on Saturday.
Two of the best offeses in the nation square off
Both teams are among top scoring offenses in the country. The Zags are tops in the nation at 91.6 ppg, while Baylor sit 6th in the NCAA at 82.8 ppg so expect plenty of points in Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday night.
Baylor showed that they don’t just win games by scoring, but they can also do it locking down on the defensive side of the ball.
Davion Mitchell is one of the best on ball defenders in the NCAA and will need to keep a keen eye on Andrew Nembhard. Nembhard is the orchestrator of the nations best offense and the the Bears can keep him quiet they may be able to throw Gonzaga off their game.
Preview of Monday's title game
Gonzaga love to pressure on defense, create turnovers and convert those turnover into easy points in transition. Baylor are averaging just under 13 giveaways a game, and limiting turnovers will be a top priority for Baylor.
The match up to watch will be Baylor’s top scorer Jared Butler and Gonzaga’s semi-final hero Jalen Suggs. Butler is averaging 16.8 ppg, a number which he hit on the head in the first half against Houston. Jalen Suggs has barged his way into the conversation for top pick in the NBA draft after catching fire late in the season. These two incendiary scorers will be key on Monday night.
Can anyone stop Drew Timme?
The real question for Baylor, and for all of Gonzaga’s opponents this year (especially in the tournament) is how do you defend Drew Timme? The 2021 Karl Malone Award winner (award for the Nation’s best Power Forward) has been unstoppable over the last month. Timme is averaging 27,5 points and and 6.8 rebounds a game in the tourney.
Baylor will no doubt use their quickness and physicality to try to force the Gonzaga big man out of his comfort zone. A big portion of the Baylor defensive duties will lie on the shoulders of Jonathan Tchamwa Tachchoua. The Baylor center has that perfect combo on strength, size and speed to try to shadow Timme.
Keys to the game
The key for Baylor will be to limit their turnovers, and stay in the ball game late. Gonzaga hasn’t been tested late in games too often this season, and although they survived against UCLA they failed to put the game away when they had the chance.
Gonzaga will have to continue what they have done all season long, force teams into a shootout. The Zags like to run and gun. High pressure on defense leads to easy buckets on offense for Mark Few’s squad
Expect fireworks on Monday night, when either Gonzaga or Baylor will be crowned kings of college basketball.