Gonzaga vs. Baylor: NCAA National Championship Preview

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Back in December, I remember going to bed knowing when I woke up Gonzaga would play Baylor in the biggest regular season game in program history.  As we know, that game didn’t happen.  But that makes tonight so much better.

Instead of the biggest regular season game in program history, it’s now just the biggest game in program history.  Gonzaga and Baylor have been the best two basketball teams over the last two years and now we get to see which one is actually better.

These two teams are very similar, almost too similar.  Both have amazing guard play that are an impossible matchup for any opponent.  Both have solid big men that can change the game.  Both teams play really good defense, and both teams play with a rarely matched physicality.

So what happens when you fight against yourself, who wins? I have no idea.

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If we go just based on their last games, Gonzaga showed incredible toughness and answered the call when they were pushed to the limit for the first time all season.  But Baylor looked unbeatable against Houston.  The best news tonight; Gonzaga is significantly better than Houston.

The key matchup everyone seems to be pointing at is Jalen Suggs against Davion Mitchell.  It’s two of the best point guards going head to head.  Both are known for being two-way players, but Mitchell is considered one of the best defenders in all of college basketball.  The question is, will Baylor have him on Suggs?  If someone else gets hot like Joel Ayayi did in the first half against UCLA, we will more than likely see Mitchell switch over to slow them down.

Like USC, Baylor has the talent to hang with Drew Timme underneath, but unlike USC, that talent comes with a ton of toughness.  If the whistle is tight tonight, Timme could get in foul trouble which would mean Gonzaga would be in big trouble.

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Baylor is the best three-point shooting team in the nation and if they hit over 50 percent from behind the arc, they probably win the game.  So Gonzaga will do their best to guard that line without opening up the middle and putting Timme in position to pick up fouls.  A tough choice to make for Mark Few.

This is the first game all season that the opponent is just as good as Gonzaga.  All year long it’s been these two teams in tier 1, and everyone else in college basketball in tier 2.

Tonight’s X-Factor is Corey Kispert.  He has struggled a bit shooting in Lucas Oil stadium, if that continues, Gonzaga’s perfect season may fall.  If Kispert gives us one of his ‘best shooter in college basketball’ games, Zags win by double-digits.  If Kispert hits a three early, look out.

Looking at all the numbers heading into tonight’s game makes this the toughest call prediction-wise all season.  But I said going into this tournament Gonzaga is the best team in the nation, and I will stand by it tonight.

KXLY’s Keith Osso predicts that Gonzaga will win the national championship by five points.

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