A national championship and a potential perfect season are both at stake on Monday night in Indianapolis when undefeated Gonzaga battles Baylor in men’s basketball. Tipoff at Lucas Oil Stadium is at 9:20 p.m. Eastern.
Gonzaga freshman Jalen Suggs hit a banked 3-pointer from just inside halfcourt as time expired in overtime on Saturday night to beat UCLA, 93-90, in arguably one of the greatest games in NCAA tournament history. The Bears had far less difficulty in their national semifinal as they routed Houston, 78-59.
Who: Baylor (27-2) vs. Gonzaga (31-0).
When: Monday, April 5, 2021.
Time: 9:20 p.m. Eastern.
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis (67,000).
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Latest line: Gonzaga -4.5.
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson.
Read some of what Eddie Pells of the Associated Press wrote about Gonzaga’s challenge to recover emotionally from Saturday night’s thriller as the Bulldogs hope to win a national title and complete a perfect season:
Now comes the hard part for Gonzaga.
Less than 16 hours after walking off the floor with one of the most scintillating wins in the game’s history, the barely-still-undefeated Bulldogs returned to the practice court Sunday to get ready for the national championship game.
Their opponent, Baylor, is rested, ready and waiting for a challenge.
The meeting Monday is one most hoops fans have waited for all year — two years, really — a matchup between two teams who have been on a collision course since the bracket came out.
No need for extra motivation here. But how do the Zags move on after THAT?
“It’s a lot in 30 hours, but it is what it is,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “My guys have been great at game preparations all season, so consistent with effort and the attention to detail on game night. So, we’re definitely banking on that.”
To recap, Jalen Suggs banked in a shot from a step inside the midcourt line at the buzzer to lift the Zags to a 93-90 overtime victory over UCLA. The game ended after 11 p.m. Saturday.
By the time that happened, Baylor (27-2) was back at the hotel.
“We were probably like everyone else on the eighth floor of the hotel,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said of the reaction to The Shot. “Pandemonium erupted.”
The Bears rolled over Houston 78-59 and, suddenly, they look every bit as unbeatable as the unbeaten Bulldogs (31-0). No team has come closer than nine points of Baylor over the three weeks in Indianapolis.
This matchup has been a long time in the making.
Had the COVID-19 pandemic not washed out the 2020 postseason, both these teams would have been No. 1 seeds in last season’s NCAA Tournament.
They were supposed to play this season, too. The meeting was set for Dec. 5 in Indianapolis — a Final Four preview in the Final Four city, many predicted — but the game got scratched when a Zags player and a staffer tested positive.
The coaches worked hard to try to reschedule. But there was no room on the calendar. Instead, they meet for the title.
This marks the first time since 2005 that the top two teams on the overall seeding list have faced in the final. Gonzaga has spent the entire season at No. 1 in the AP poll. Baylor spent 15 of 17 weeks at No. 2 and finished at No. 3 (behind Illinois).
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