Baylor dominates to win first national title, denies Gonzaga perfection
Baylor wins national title, denies Gonzaga a perfect season
It turns out Baylor was the one to make history. Perfection will have to wait.
The Bears won their first national title and denied Gonzaga an undefeated season with a dominating 86-70 win in the 2021 NCAA tournament championship game.
Baylor led by 19 in the first half, and when Gonzaga briefly cut it to nine in the second, the Bears’ Jared Butler and others helped settle things and stretched the edge to 20. Butler had 22 points and seven assists, while MaCio Teague (19 points), Davion Mitchell (15) and Adam Flagler (13) all reached double figures. Baylor's patience led to 10 3-pointers in the game — and no turnovers for the first 12 minutes of the second half.
Even though Gonzaga shot 51 percent from the floor, it never got comfortable on 3s, making only five of its 17 attempts. Baylor also controlled the boards, getting 14 offensive rebounds.
The loss kept Gonzaga from becoming the first undefeated champion since Indiana in 1976. The Bulldogs are the first team to fall one game short of perfection since 1979 Indiana State.
Baylor's Jared Butler is the Most Outstanding Player. Here's the 2021 All-Tournament Team:
- Johnny Juzang, UCLA
- Davion Mitchell, Baylor
- Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
- Drew Timme, Gonzaga
- Jared Butler, Baylor
Baylor 82, Gonzaga 65 | 3:18 2nd
Time is running out for Gonzaga — and Baylor is close to its first title.
The Bears led by as many as 20 and remain firmly in command, with Jared Butler's 20 points and 7 assists marking the first time that's happened in the championship game since Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony in 2003.
But Butler isn't doing it alone. MaCio Teague has 19 points and both Davion Mitchell and Adam Flagler have 13.
Gonzaga is above 50 percent from the field, but the Bulldogs have only four 3-pointers (26.7 percent) and have allowed Baylor to gobble up 14 offensive rebounds.
Baylor 67, Gonzaga 51 | 12:52 2nd
The 3s keep falling and the gap for a Gonzaga rally is closing.
Baylor's Adam Flagler is up to 3-for-3 shooting from long range, pushing Baylor to 10 3-pointers on only 18 attempts. Jared Butler has 18 points (and four 3s), while MaCio Teague has 16 — and two 3s of his own.
Baylor getting it done at BOTH ends #NationalChampionship @BaylorMBB pic.twitter.com/nWqhfCALZS— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) April 6, 2021
Gonzaga appeared to be making a run, getting it to 58-49, which was the first time Baylor didn't lead by double figures since it was 13-4.
But those 3-pointers are still going down for the Bears.
Baylor 56, Gonzaga 45 | 15:51 2nd
There's no big surge yet for Gonzaga, but Baylor's Flo Thamba had to sit after picking up his fourth foul with 17 minutes to go. Baylor's foul troubles could be the start of a changing narrative inside.
Yet the Bulldogs are still struggling from distance (1 for 8) and are still getting beaten on the glass. Bears star Jared Butler also has 16 points on nine shots.
Baylor 47, Gonzaga 37 | Halftime
If Gonzaga is going to make history and finish undefeated, it will have to make even more history.
Baylor is up 47-37 at the half, but the Bulldogs trailed by as many as 19 points. That would be the largest deficit overcome in title game history. Though Baylor won't make it easy.
Zags not going away 👀@ZagMBB #NationalChampionship pic.twitter.com/i8fTGiac4n— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) April 6, 2021
Both teams are shooting at least 50 percent, with the Bears also grabbing eight offensive rebounds and hitting seven 3-pointers to the Bulldogs' one.
MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell have combined for 24 points, with Drew Timme leading Gonzaga with 10. One area of positivity for the Bulldogs comes at the foul line. Gonzaga has made 10 more free throws than Baylor and three Bears have at least two fouls.
Baylor 38, Gonzaga 26 | 3:41 1st
Gonzaga's zone is making things interesting. What was a 19-point Baylor led is suddenly down to 12.
For all the early struggles, the Bulldogs are still shooting 50 percent, allowing them to quickly make a push to force a Scott Drew timeout.
Drew Timme is the top Gonzaga weapon thus far, making four of his five attempts. But Baylor still has nearly as many made field goals (15) as the Bulldogs have shots (17). Eight offensive board will help with that. Baylor will need to figure out that zone.
Baylor 23, Gonzaga 8 | 11:42 1st
Gonzaga has never been in this position before.
The Bulldogs are one win away from perfection, but they'll have to climb out of the biggest deficit of the season: 15 points.
Jalen Suggs has been on the bench with two fouls (but is coming back). Baylor has five offensive rebounds, is shooting 52.9 percent and is 3-for-3 shooting on 3-pointers. Gonzaga has five turnovers and has looked either slow or lost on possessions. Perhaps that wild overtime game against UCLA two days ago is still lingering.
Baylor 11, Gonzaga 1 | 15:30 1st
The highest-scoring team in the nation is still looking for its first basket.
Baylor came out rocking against the undefeated Bulldogs, who are 0-for-3 from the floor and have a pair of turnovers. The Bears are also owning the glass, coming down with four offensive boards in a little more than 4 minutes. As if that wasn't enough, Final Four hero Jalen Suggs is on the bench with two fouls.
Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler are getting it done for Baylor, combining for all 11 points while shooting 5 of 6.
WHAT A START FOR THE BEARS 👀@BaylorMBB #NationalChampionship pic.twitter.com/OWk04YJon5— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) April 6, 2021
Watch live: Gonzaga is playing Baylor in the national championship
It's time to crown a champion. Unbeaten Gonzaga is playing Baylor now on CBS to conclude the 2021 NCAA tournament.
Click or tap here to follow along all game long.
Here's how the Bulldogs and Bears got here:
|Def. (16) Norfolk State, 98-55||First||Def. (16) Hartford, 79-55|
|Def. (8) Oklahoma, 87-71||Second||Def. (9) Wisconsin, 76-63|
|Def. (5) Creighton, 83-65||Sweet 16||Def. (5) Villanova, 62-51|
|Def. (6) USC, 85-66||Elite Eight||Def. (3) Arkansas, 81-72|
|Def. (11) UCLA, 93-90 (OT)||Final Four (semifinals)||Def. (2) Houston, 78-59|
Gonzaga vs. Baylor: Breaking down the matchup
We'll have a first-time champion tonight, no matter what happens. Both Gonzaga and Baylor have been dominant for (almost) all season, too.
The Bulldogs' wild OT win against UCLA in the Final Four was their first by single digits since Dec. 2. Meanwhile, the Bears started 18-0 before a COVID pause and initially struggled upon their return. But they've since won big in the NCAA tournament, pushing aside teams by 24, 13, 11, 9 and 19 points to reach the final game.
Undefeated Gonzaga would be the first undefeated champ since 1975-76 Indiana. The Bulldogs also rank first in the nation in points per game (91.6), field goal percentage (55) and scoring margin (22.4). Baylor comes in third in scoring margin at 17.5, ranking behind Houston, the team it routed in the Final Four.
Gonzaga was also the nation's top pick to win the championship, as 38.82 percent of Bracket Challenge Game brackets had the Bulldogs cutting down the nets; Baylor came in third at 8.43 percent.
Here's another look at how the teams compare statistically.
|31-0 (15-0 WCC)||Record||27-2 (13-1)|
|37.0||3-point FG percentage||41.2|
|42.1||Def. FG percentage||43.1|
|18.9/12.0||Assists/turnovers per game||16.9/11.6|
|8.1||Steals per game||8.9|
|2.8||Blocks per game||3.7|
|Drew Timme (19.2)||Leading scorer||Jared Butler (16.6)|
|Timme (7.1)||Leading rebounder||Mark Vital (6.5)|
Baylor and Gonzaga play tonight for the NCAA championship
Tonight's the night. Gonzaga and Baylor will meet to play for a national title after more than 700 days since the last champion was crowned.
Both teams seek their first NCAA men's basketball national championship, though both have made one previous appearance in the title game. Gonzaga in 2017 and Baylor in 1948.
Gonzaga goes into tonight's match-up aiming for its 36th straight victory. Baylor is 27-2. The two teams have held the top two spots in national rankings for much of the season. With a win, Gonzaga would be the first undefeated national champion since Indiana in 1975-76.
Here's some more to know before the game tips off at 9:20 p.m. ET
- You can stream the game here on March Madness Live. Tip-off is at 9:20 p.m. CBS broadcasts the game.
- Mike Lopresti gets the story on Mark Few and Scott Drew, pickleball partners and opposing coaches
- Andy Katz ranks the 10 best national champions since 2000
- Jalen Suggs' game-winning shot was pure March Madness
- Here is a look at the 7 undefeated men's basketball national champions
- See where your bracket ranks in the NCAA.com Bracket Challenge Game
- See the updated interactive bracket here and the printable 2021 NCAA bracket here
- History and results from every men's Final Four in Indianapolis, so far
This is the sixth all-time meeting between Gonzaga and Baylor. The Zags have won all five of the previous meetings against BU, with four under Mark Few.
Here is the history of match-ups between Gonzaga and Baylor since 2006:
|March 23, 2019||Gonzaga 83, Baylor 71||2018-19||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Dec. 28, 2012||Gonzaga 94, Baylor 87||2012-13||Spokane, Wash.|
|Dec. 18, 2010||Gonzaga 68, Baylor 64||2010-11||Dallas, Texas|
|Nov. 15, 2006||Gonzaga 78, Baylor 69||2006-07||Spokane, Wash.|
Gonzaga beats UCLA at the buzzer in OT, will play Baylor for title
Jalen Suggs made sure Gonzaga's quest for perfection remained alive. But it almost ended in Indy.
Suggs' buzzer-beating 3-pointer sent Gonzaga to the national title game, 93-90, after UCLA's Johnny Juzang tied the game in the closing seconds with a putback of his own miss. But Suggs' shot kept the Bulldogs' loss mark at zero and a chance to make it eight undefeated national champions.
JALEN SUGGS. UNBELIEVABLE! 🤯🚨@ZagMBB #FinalFour pic.twitter.com/QeEAjENYmG— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) April 4, 2021
Drew Timme's late play also helped the Bulldogs escape. After drawing a charge call in the final moments of the second half with UCLA trying to win the game, Timme took over early in overtime with three field goals on consecutive possessions. Timme had 25 points in the game.
Yet UCLA wouldn't go away.
UCLA, the fifth No. 11 seed to make the Final Four, pushed the undefeated Bulldogs all night and even had a chance to win the game at the end of the second half. That would have made the Bruins the first double-digit seed to play in the national championship.
The Bulldogs had won 27 consecutive games by double digits and breezed through its region. But UCLA, which won overtime games in the First Four and Sweet 16, ran a patient offense led by Juzang. He led all players with 29 points. Three other Bruins hit double digits, helping UCLA shoot 57.6 percent. Tyger Campbell had 17 points and seven assists.
Gonzaga struggled from distance, shooting only 33.3 percent (7 for 21) — but then Suggs brought the magic. The Bulldogs otherwise took close attempts inside to shoot 58.7 percent. Joel Ayayi had 22 points on 12 shots, with Suggs (16), Corey Kispert (15) and Andrew Nembhard (11) also reaching double digits.
|37 for 63 (58.7)||FGs||34 for 59 (57.6)|
|7 for 21 (33.3)||3-pointers||8 for 17 (47.1)|
|12 for 20 (60)||FTs||14 for 21 (66.7)|
|26 (6)||Rebounds (Offensive)||32 (7)|
Gonzaga, UCLA heading to OT
Gonzaga gets 5 more minutes to protect its perfection — the first Final Four OT since Kentucky played Stanford in 1998.
UCLA had a chance to pull the shocker, but Drew Timme stepped in with four fouls in the final moments to draw a charge on Johnny Juzang. The Bruins star has carried his team with 27 points, five rebounds and two assists.
The Bulldogs are cold from distance at 5-for-17 shooting, though their seemingly countless looks around the rim still have them at 57.1 percent overall from the floor.
Gonzaga 75, UCLA 74 | 4:31 2nd
The last time an undefeated team made the Final Four, the run — and perfection — ended there. Wisconsin shocked Kentucky in 2015.
That was also in Indianapolis. Could we have a repeat here?
Gonzaga is clinging to the small lead thanks to a clutch 3-pointer from Corey Kispert. The make brought the Bulldogs up to 60.4 percent shooting. And the undefeated No. 1 team is still up only one point. For perspective, Gonzaga shot 50 percent in the Elite Eight against USC and won by 19.
But UCLA is shooting 57.1 percent itself to keep it close. Johnny Juzang is up to 22 points on 13 shots.
Gonzaga 69, UCLA 67 | 7:25 2nd
We're getting deeper into the game and not much has changed. Just when it seemed Gonzaga would pull ahead comfortably and up 7, UCLA responded.
Drew Timme has emerged as the toughest out this half, as he's up to 17 points. That's just behind Joel Ayayi's 20 for Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are shooting 60 percent, often finding close and good looks inside.
The Bruins may not be getting a lot of stops, but they've made two more 3-pointers and are plus-4 on rebounds. As expected Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell are handling the scoring load with a combined 48 points — or 71.6 percent of the Bruins' output.