Warrior Weekly: NCAA mens basketball national championship game recap

WSPNs Max Brande recaps the NCAA mens basketball national title game, and what was at play for both teams.

WSPN’s Max Brande recaps the NCAA mens basketball national title game, and what was at play for both teams.

The perfect season for the Gonzaga Bulldogs just wasn’t perfect enough, as they failed to complete one of the greatest feats in all of sports: go entirely undefeated in a season. Maybe the score, 31-1 doesn’t sound so bad, but Jason Suggs, Corey Kispert and company, who were so dominant all season, had all hoped that Monday night would go a little differently.

The 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament concluded on Monday night where the Baylor Bears defeated the Gonzaga Bulldogs (-4.5) by a score of 86-70. This tournament put the ‘madness’ in March Madness by providing the most upsets in NCAA tournament history. We saw 11 seed UCLA go from the first four to the final four, one seed Illinois eliminated in the second round and 15 seed Oral Roberts defy all odds and make it to the sweet 16.

This national championship was a heavily anticipated matchup between the ap preseason poll top two teams in the nation. Many analysts and critics around the country had this matchup going into the tournament, and their hopes became reality.

This matchup featured two of the one seeds in this year’s tournament, but the only team that proved their worth as a one seed was the team in green. It was all Baylor on Monday night. Baylor got out to a 13-4 start and never looked back. Gonzaga, meanwhile, never had a lead.

Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague for Baylor all had 15 points or more. Gonzaga had one: Jalen Suggs. Suggs pretty much did everything and then some for the Bulldogs on Monday night, but it just wasn’t enough.

Suggs was the heart of this Gonzaga team all-tournament as we saw game in and game out. Suggs produced impressive numbers in all six of Gonzaga’s tournament games, most noticeably in the team’s final four matchup against UCLA. The game went into overtime, and right as it looked like Johnny Juzang for UCLA was going to force it into double overtime, Suggs took it down the court and hit a deep logo three to win the game with time expiring. The magic just didn’t carry over into the national championship game.

Gonzaga had a disappointing five offensive rebounds all game. With big men on this team such as Drew Timme, you’d expect that number to be higher. The whole country did. Nonetheless, the disappointing stats continued all night for the Zags as they shot a terrible 29% from deep and produced 14 turnovers in the game.

Baylor’s numbers, on the other hand, were quite impressive. Baylor shot 44% from three, put up 16 offensive rebounds and limited the team to only nine turnovers. Those are numbers that are going to win you a national championship.

When it comes down to it, this game was somewhat in favor of Baylor before the opening tip-off. Gonzaga’s final four matchup against UCLA was the very first game all year where the team faced adversity and had to dig itself out of a hole in a very close game. The team just barely did so against 11 seed UCLA. If Baylor came out hot and built a lead in this game, then it would have been over before it had even begun, which is exactly what happened.

On top of that, although both teams are one seeds in the tournament, they come from very different regular season backgrounds. Gonzaga ran the table in the West Coast Conference, which is not one of the power five conferences in college basketball. Baylor, however, comes from the most competitive conference in college basketball this year: the Big 12. Seven of the ten teams in the Big 12 made the NCAA tournament this year. Gonzaga was the only team to represent the WCC. The point is, Gonzaga never faced adversity all season and played far inferior opponents all season long. Baylor, contrarily, was at the top of easily the most competitive conference in the 2021 basketball season. See where this is going? When these two teams meet in the national championship, the finale of the 2021 season, all factors come into play, and all variables become issues. On Monday night, these issues were everywhere for the Bulldogs of Gonzaga who failed to complete their perfect season.