March Madness Championship Game Recap


Associated Press

Gonzaga and Baylor met in the 2021 NCAA mens National Championship.

On Monday April 5th, the matchup of two titans took place as Gonzaga and Baylor met for the national championship. Ranked one and two in the preseason poll and for most of the year, Baylor and Gonzaga have been considered the two best teams in the country all year. To get to the championship Baylor dominated Houston while Gonzaga beat UCLA on a buzzer beater by freshman Jalen Suggs in one of the best games ever. The build up was insane as Gonzaga was shooting to go undefeated while Baylor was a favorite to win it last year. Both teams had lots of experienced juniors and seniors on the roster and there wasn’t a clear favorite heading into the game. Even more interesting, the teams were set to meet in the regular season in December, but due to Covid the game was cancelled. This game would settle the debate on which team was truly the best in college basketball.

Baylor came out on fire to start the game going up 9-0. They had lots of energy and hit shot after shot while Gonzaga looked sluggish and unlike themselves. Baylor lead guards Davion Michell and Jared Butler were knocking down threes and pull-up jumpers while big man Mark Vital was dominating the Zags on the glass. Gonzaga didn’t look like their usual self, committing unforced turnovers and missing open looks. It didn’t look like they were mentally ready at the start of the game and the Baylor Bears took advantage. Baylor got up at as much as 19 in the first half and were a perfect 5-5 from the three point range to start the game. The trio of Macio Teague, Davion Mitchell, and Jared Butler were unguardable, getting whatever look they wanted and knocking it down like no one was guarding them. Towards the end of the first half, Gonzaga settled in and made a run to cut the Bear lead to 10 going into the half.

The second half started with both teams battling and the Zags even cut the lead to 9, but this was the closest they ever got as Baylor started to pick apart the Gonzaga defense. Gonzaga switched to a 2-3 zone defense because they couldn’t cover the Bear’s great guards one on one. On the other side, Baylor was playing suffocating defense and physically dominating the Zag’s around the rim. As the final buzzer sounded, the Baylor Bears were crowned national champions for the first time in their school history with an 86-70 win.

Gonzaga freshman Jalen Suggs did his best to lead the Zags, ending with 22 points, but the supporting cast of Time, Kispert, and Ayayi struggled. The Bulldogs finished shooting a meager 29% from the three point range on 17 attempts. The Bulldogs also committed 14 turnovers compared to the Bears 7. On the other side, Jared Butler paced Baylor with 22 points and four threes. Macio Teague and Davion Mitchell added 19 and 15 points along with 3 combined threes. A huge reason the Bears won was the 34-17 rebounding advantage. It seemed like they got every available ball and bullied Gonzaga when going for offensive rebounds. The Bears also got a huge boost from the bench with 21 points compared to the Zags 7 bench points. Overall, the Baylor Bears dominated the game from start to finish. Many people were surprised by the dominance with which Baylor handled Gonzaga. After all, Gonzaga was one win away from becoming the first team to go undefeated since 1976. Baylor was on another level from start to finish and it never seemed like Gonzaga had a chance.

Now that the season is over, both teams are set to lose a lot of the top talent on their team, but bring in some new key pieces. Baylor will lose 4 of its starters, including the top 3 scorers from this season. Luckily, Baylor is bringing in a top 3 recruiting class in the country which contains two five-stars. They again should be a great team, but this year’s team was special. On the other side, Gonzaga will more than likely lose 3 starters in Corey Kispert, Joel Ayayi, and Jalen Suggs. Drew Timme, the team’s leading scorer during the NCAA tournament, is only a sophomore, but might go to the NBA draft. Also, Chet Holmgen is the number one high school player in the country and predicted to choose to play at Gonzaga. If they can bring in these two players they should be a top three team next year. Both teams lose a lot of talent to graduation and the NBA, but Baylor and Gonzaga are primed to be at the top of the country next year.