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Gonzaga Opens as 5-Point Favorite Over Baylor in NCAA Tournament Championship Game – How Will the Spread Move?

Robert Duff

by Robert Duff in College Basketball

Apr 3, 2021 · 8:17 PM PDT

Matthew Mayer, Guard, Baylor
Baylor guard Matthew Mayer (24) celebrates during the first half of a men's Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament semifinal game against Houston, Saturday, April 3, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
  • The Gonzaga Bulldogs are opening as 5-point favorites to defeat the Baylor Bears in the NCAA Tournament championship game on Monday, April 5th
  • Gonzaga is a perfect 31-0 on the season and could be the first unbeaten NCAA champion since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers
  • It’s the first time all season that the 27-2 Bears have been a betting underdog

Throughout the 2020-21 NCAA men’s basketball season, the view from the pundits was that there was Gonzaga and Baylor and then there was everyone else. As that assessment is being proven correct – 27-2 Baylor will meet 31-0 Gonzaga for the NCAA title – oddsmakers appear to be of the opinion that there is Gonzaga and then there is everyone else.

The Bulldogs are opening as the 5-point favorites to overcome the Bears and capture their first NCAA title. It’s the first time all season that Baylor is a betting underdog. The Bears are 19-10 against the spread this season and 4-1 ATS during March Madness.

The game is slated for a 9pm ET start on Monday, April 5th at Lucas Oil Stadium. CBS is carrying the broadcast.

Baylor vs Gonzaga Opening Odds

Team Moneyline Spread at DraftKings Total
Baylor +188 +5 (-109) O 160 (-109)
Gonzaga -245 -5 (-112) U 160 (-112)

Odds as of April 3rdΒ 

[promoted-sportsbook]

Gonzaga Keeps Doubling Up

It isn’t just that the Bulldogs keep winning. It’s the manner in which they are so easily disposing of their opponents that is truly astonishing. Entering their Final Four semifinal against UCLA, the Zags had won 27 consecutive victories by double-digit margins, an NCAA record.

Their closest call before their buzzer beater against UCLA was an 87-82 victory over #13-ranked West Virginia on December 2nd. There was even a prop offered leading into the UCLA game on whether Gonzaga would extend its run of double-digit victories. Gonzaga has won 35 in a row going back to last season.

If the Zags win their first NCAA title, along with 1975-76 Indiana, they’ll also join UCLA (1963-64, 1966-67, 1971-72, 1972-73), North Carolina (1956-57) and San Francisco (1955-56) as unbeaten NCAA champions.

A Bears Market

Baylor flexed impressively against a Houston Cougars squad that also looked to be quite a juggernaut until they ran up against the Bears. They crushed Houston 78-59 in their Final Four semifinal to earn the first championship game appearance in the school’s 71-year history.

Baylor will offer the toughest test the Zags have faced all season long. The Bears led Houston by 25 points at halftime.

The #1 3-point shooting team in the nation (41.06%), the Bears hit 11 baskets from long range against the Cougars.

Trendspotting

It’s perhaps a tip of the cap toΒ  Baylor that the opening line on the championship game isn’t even close to being the largest number in tournament history. Since the NCAA Tournament went to the 64-team format in 1985, the highest point spread in the championship game was in the 1996 final. The Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Syracuse Orange 76-67 but failed to cover as 14-point favorites.

That’s one of 12 times since 1985 that the line on the final was greater than 5 points. Favorites and underdogs have each covered six times in those 12 games. However, only three of those underdogs won outright – the Villanova Wildcats (+9) in 1985, the Connecticut Huskies (+9.5) in 1999 and Syracuse (+5.5) in 2003.

The largest spread to be covered by a favorite was in 2009. The North Carolina Tar Heels beat the Michigan State Spartans 89-72 in 2009 as the 7.5-point betting choice.

As dominant as Gonzaga has proven to be this season, the Zags are just 15-12-2 ATS when favored by five or more points. The Bulldogs are 4-0 ATS when favored by single digits this season, however.

This line doesn’t figure to move much. Baylor has shown enough this season that there will be plenty of action on the Bears.


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