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Baylor vs Gonzaga
Courtesy of NCAA
Baylor vs Gonzaga
Courtesy of NCAA

The NCAA Championship Game has arrived! The road to this game wasn’t pretty. In a year where we saw what seemed to be an incredible amount of upsets and just an absolute crazy tournament filled with heartbreak and excitement, we finally kicked off the coveted championship game. A pair of #1 seeded teams battling it out to be crowned NCAA Champions.

1 Baylor 86
1 Gonzaga 70

1 Baylor vs 1 Gonzaga

If you love college basketball, you know this was the matchup every college basketball fan was waiting to see. From the very beginning of the season, we had sports analysts predicting who will get off to fast starts, which teams are the most complete, and who is favored to make strong runs in March. We heard Gonzaga, who every year seem to be the natural favorite, Alabama, Michigan, and Villanova, as expert choices to go all the way and take the title. 

As the season unfolded, it was clear there were two powerhouse schools that would stand out from the rest. That was the Baylor Bears and Gonzaga Bulldogs. Both teams’ prominent offenses flourished as they obliterated their competition each week. Both teams were headed into what seemed to be undefeated seasons. 

Then, just like that, Baylor experienced a month-long layoff due to COVID-19 contact tracing. Soon after coming back, they lost two games, which they hadn’t experienced since rolling early on in the season. They were written off as not being ready for the bright lights and became an afterthought to Gonzaga’s undefeated regular-season record. 

All this talk, all this regular-season drama, led up to this one crucial and final winner takes all game. Baylor was out to prove everyone wrong, and boy did they do that in dominating fashion under the brightest lights there can be. Coming into the game, Gonzaga was considered the favorite to close out what would be a perfect 32-0 season ending it with a National Championship. 

From the tip-off, Baylor took absolute control over the game. They played with physical tenacity and hard nose defense. Gonzaga wasn’t ready and clearly not expecting it. Baylor also got off to a fast offensive start. In just 7 minutes of play, Baylor held a 21-6 lead. The 15 point deficit was the biggest deficit Gonzaga had faced all season long. Gonzaga did try fighting back to stay in the game, cutting down the deficit to 10 points at the half. But they were never able to recuperate.

The two most significant factors contributing to Baylor’s victory were 3-point shooting and rebounding. Baylor shot 43.5% from the 3-point range, helping them keep that big lead. Baylor’s defensive efforts essentially eliminated Gonzaga’s comeback attempts as they shot an abysmal 29.4% from the 3-point range.

Baylor’s defense also eliminated second chance point opportunities by outrebounding Gonzaga 38 to 22. It was a slow and painful defeat for Gonzaga as they saw their chances at a perfect season diminish as every minute passed.

In the end, it was coach Scott Drew, hired in August 2003, who vowed to bring Baylor their first national title in program history. And that they did. Congratulations, Baylor Bears, on being the 2021 NCAA Tournament Champions.

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