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Baylor vs. Gonzaga (-4.5) 9:20 p.m. ET
It’s finally here, and the madness has lived up to its name. Gonzaga vs. UCLA was one of the greatest endings to a game in a long time. But all good things must come to an end, and here we are with the final game of the 2021 NCAA March Madness. Picking Baylor vs. Gonzaga was the boring chalk pick, but it’s no surprise that the country’s two best teams are meeting. These two teams are amazing. Baylor is coming off their blowout win against Houston, and everybody knows about the thrilling overtime game that Gonzaga and UCLA went through. Can the Bulldogs become the first team since the 1976 Hoosiers to be undefeated in the regular season and win the championship, or will Baylor end their magical run?
The public believes that the Bulldogs will be victorious today as 53% of bets are on Gonzaga to cover the spread. Gonzaga and Baylor are both fantastic teams, but I’m going to follow the public and pick the Bulldogs. I know that they are coming off a grueling overtime win against the Bruins, and Baylor skated by Houston to the championship. I believe that Gonzaga is the better team. Everybody wants to believe in a Cinderella and the magic of the madness, but the favorite wins the championship. Since 2010, the favorites are 6-3 in the championship game. History is telling you to bet on the Bulldogs, and so are the stats. In a couple of years, people will look at this Gonzaga offense and say that it was one of the best ever. According to Kenpom, the Bulldogs are 1st in Adjusted Efficiency, 1st in Effective FG%, 42nd in 3P%, and 1st in 2P%. It’s not like they are a one-trick pony. They move the ball great; they have averaged 18.3 assists a game. They have players who can get buckets when nothing else is working. They have three players averaging over 14ppg: Drew Timme (19.2ppg), Corey Kispert (18.8ppg), and Jalen Suggs (14.1ppg). They are also a much better defensive team than Baylor. According to Kenpom, the Bears had the 27th best Adjusted Efficiency compared to the Bulldogs, who had the 8th best Adjusted Efficiency. When we talk about teams that went undefeated for the entire regular season and won the whole thing, we will talk about the 1976 Hoosiers and the 2021 Bulldogs. I’m following the public with my pick.
The pick: Gonzaga -4.5
Now that we talked about the spread for the game, let’s look at the total, which is 159.5 points. Surprisingly, the public is on the under with 54% of the bets. I know that it would be amazing to have a high-scoring game where both offenses are battling back and forth, but that’s not what history tells us. Since 2010, the under has gone 7-2. This Gonzaga vs. Baylor total is the highest since 2017 when Gonzaga was in the finals against UNC; the total for that game was 154 points. The under easily hit, as the final score was 136 points. Gonzaga and Baylor both have excellent offenses; they shoot great from the field and don’t make mistakes. So, in theory, the over should be the play, but that total seems too high. Gonzaga is averaging 156 total points in their last seven games compared to Baylor, which is averaging 139.2 points. If we don’t get anything crazy — no overtime, no blowout — the under should hit, in theory. In my last fade or follow article, I picked Houston vs. Baylor’s under, which was so close except for the fact that Mark Paterson, a benchwarmer, scored for Baylor with 20 seconds left after they were already up by 30 points. I’m going to ignore the stats and listen to history with my pick. That’s why I’m following the public.
The pick: Under 159.5 points