Men’s Basketball: Zags take on Baylor for a national championship

The Gonzaga men’s basketball team will face the Baylor Bears Monday night in the NCAA Championship game. 

It’s the matchup we’ve all been waiting for: Gonzaga (31-0) v. Baylor (27-2), the No.1 team all season v. the No. 2 team all season, will face off in the national championship. 

“What an absolute thrill to be able to survive the epic battle last night with an incredible UCLA team,” said Gonzaga Head Coach Mark Few. “We go from the euphoric high of that to waking up this morning to the daunting task of trying to prepare for an excellent, excellent Baylor team that I’ve been marveling at for the last two years with how they are on both sides of the ball.”

Back in December this game was set to happen, but due to COVID-19 complications the game was canceled a few hours before the scheduled tip-off. 

“Coach Few and I, when we were together on Dec. 5, said ‘How neat would it be to play this game on April 5,’” said Scott Drew, Baylor’s head coach. “God always has a plan and we’ve got a great game in store hopefully.”

After that cancellation Few said he and Drew worked to reschedule the game considering many different locations like Las Vegas, Denver, Kansas City, Sioux Falls and Phoenix. They looked at every venue and every date. 

“We had our little futile human plans, but God always has a plan and as is usually the case his plan is better than ours,” Few said. “I think the way it turned out is probably the best scenario you could possibly imagine for college basketball in general and even sports in America.” 

For GU this will be the second national championship appearance in four years, the last time being in 2017 when the team lost to the University of North Carolina. For Baylor this will be its first appearance in the national championship in school history. 

These teams have two best offenses in the country with GU averaging 91.6 points and Baylor averaging 82.8 points per game.

The Zags will also be going up against one of the best backcourt trios in Jared Butler, MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell, who also make up the top three scorers for Baylor with 30.3 points, 31.7 points and 33 points, respectively. They will be paired against the Zag’s backcourt of Jalen Suggs (14.1 points), Joel Ayayi (12.2 points) and Andrew Nembhard (9.2 points).

“Obviously, the way they shoot the ball, I think they are shooting the three better collectively better than anybody in the country and they play off each other so well,” Few said. “They’re complete. They guard their yard defensively, they’re very handsy on defense, they make the right reads and ball screens and off penetration. Obviously, they shoot the ball really well.” 

This will be the sixth time the Zags have faced the Bears. The Zags currently hold a 5-0 record against Baylor with their last meeting being in the 2019 NCAA tournament in the round of 32. GU won 83-71.

These two teams have reached the biggest moment in college basketball as one of the most anticipated matchups of the season. The Zags will take on the Bears tomorrow at 6 p.m. on CBS. 

“It kind of reminds you back to the old days of the Celtics and Lakers when I heard Larry Bird retiring or Magic [Johnson] retiring they were always talking about how they were always watching each other and it kept them motivated and kept pushing them to be better,” Drew said. “I think with Gonzaga and us the last two years they’ve followed what we’ve done, and we’ve followed what they’ve done…You need that competition; you need teams like this to bring out the best in you.”