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Men's National Title Game Picks: Will Gonzaga or Baylor Win It All?


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It's been 131 days since the 2020–21 college basketball season began last November, and on Monday night in Indianapolis, it comes to a close when Gonzaga and Baylor square off in a highly-anticipated men's national championship game. Which team will be smiling when the confetti falls at Lucas Oil Stadium? SI's expert picks are in.

Pat Forde

Who will win? Gonzaga, 84–83. No halfcourt shot needed this time, but it will still be witheringly tense. Since I’ve picked Gonzaga all along I will ride with the Zags, although I’m concerned about them hitting the wall in the final 10 minutes after the expenditure Saturday night.

If I am wrong, it's because... Gonzaga tapped out late and the Jared Butler-Davion Mitchell power duo took over.

The Final Four Most Outstanding Player will be... Jalen Suggs.

Jeremy Woo

Who will win? Baylor. I picked Gonzaga before the season and switched to Baylor entering the tournament. I can't have my cake and also eat it. Give me the Bears in a close, uneasy, compelling title game.

If I am wrong, it's because... Gonzaga is just way too good. It's so hard to go undefeated, and Baylor fits the profile as the type of experienced, high-powered team that can pull off an upset. Alas, there are many reasons the Zags haven't lost yet, and there's not a real hardline argument for them losing other than gut feel.

The Final Four MOP will be... Davion Mitchell.

Jason Jordan

Who will win? Gonzaga. Its close call against UCLA only strengthened my belief that it will always find a way. Now, after Jalen Suggs's game-winner, the Zags seem to also have destiny working in their favor. Talk about unfair.

If I am wrong, it's because... Baylor had its best three-point shooting performance of the NCAA tournament. The Bears went 11 of 24 in the thrashing of Houston, and when they're draining their three-pointers at a high clip, every aspect of the offense begins to click.

The Final Four MOP will be... Drew Timme.

Kevin Sweeney

Who will win? Gonzaga will complete its perfect season and cut down the nets. The game against UCLA wasn't so much a sign of Gonzaga weakness as much as it was an indication of how perfect a team has to play just to have a chance against the Zags. Baylor is playing elite basketball right now, but the Bulldogs should be able to get Drew Timme involved early and often against the Bears' frontcourt. Unless Baylor explodes from deep, Gonzaga will find a way.

If I'm wrong, it's because... Baylor's offense is more explosive than any team Gonzaga has faced all year long. When the Bears are clicking on all cylinders, they are virtually impossible to stop.

The Final Four MOP will be... Jalen Suggs.

Elizabeth Swinton

Who will win? Gonzaga. The Bulldogs have the momentum and motivation on their side to complete their undefeated season. Baylor will be equally motivated to put a stop to it, but Gonzaga comes out of the test against UCLA a better team with the depth to win it all. 

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If I'm wrong, it's because... Jared Butler takes over. The junior has been solid throughout the tournament but is also capable of more offensively, and he can prove to be a thorn in Gonzaga's side.

The Final Four MOP will be... Jalen Suggs.

Michael Shapiro

Who will win? I'll take Gonzaga to complete the undefeated season in what could be another Final Four thriller. Drew Timme can likely dictate the game in the halfcourt, and Jalen Suggs should serve as a major defensive impediment against Baylor's trio of impressive guards. This is the most poised and mature college team in recent memory. The Zags should seal the deal on Monday night.

If I'm wrong it's because... Baylor's three-headed monster controls the game in the halfcourt. The Bears lit up a strong Houston defense in the national semifinal, and Davion Mitchell is a true primetime player. If Gonzaga starts cold, Scott Drew's squad could seize the lead and never let it go.

The Final Four MOP will be... Drew Timme.

Nick Selbe

Who will win? Baylor. UCLA's four guards scored a combined 79 points Saturday night on 31-for-55 shooting (56.4%), and though that group has played at a high level this tournament, Baylor's three-headed backcourt monster is a different breed. Jared Butler, MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell have averaged a combined 40.8 points per game on 44.6% shooting for the tournament, though have been cooler than usual from behind the arc (33.8%). Here's betting they're saving their best for last.

If I'm wrong, it's because... Gonzaga's able to speed Baylor up enough to lead to easy buckets. That's what the Bulldogs did against USC in the Elite Eight, essentially ending the game within the first five or so minutes. Baylor takes care of the ball well and rarely beats itself, so Gonzaga will attempt to push the tempo early and seize control of the game's pace.

The Final Four MOP will be... Jared Butler.

Molly Geary

Who will win? Gonzaga. The Zags were my champion pick back in the preseason, and I'm not backing off that now. Baylor is an extremely good team, but men's college hoops history will be made Monday night in Indy.

If I am wrong, it's because... Baylor makes it rain from downtown, negating Gonzaga's proficiency inside the arc.

The Final Four MOP will be... Drew Timme.

Baylor's Jared Butler and Gonzaga's Drew Timme


Stanford is the women's national champ for the first time in 29 years after surviving a dramatic defensive battle with Arizona. (By Kevin Sweeney)

Not much has gone according to plan in the world in the last year—except Baylor and Gonzaga meeting Monday night. (By Pat Forde)

High-scoring offenses, Jalen Suggs vs. Davion Mitchell and other keys to the long-awaited Gonzaga-Baylor showdown. (By Jeremy Woo)

Emergency pharmacy runs, a 19,000-wing order and carpeted basketball courts: Tales from the men's NCAA tournament bubble. (By Ross Dellenger)

Best Thing We Saw

Crystal Ball

After starting the tournament blazing hot from three, Corey Kispert is 5 for 18 from beyond the arc in his last two games. Gonzaga needs the senior's perimeter shooting ability (44.5% on the season) to counter Baylor's array of sharpshooters, and I think Kispert comes out strong Monday night and cans at least four triples. —Molly Geary

At the Buzzer

Beyond the obvious comparisons, for some, Jalen Suggs's buzzer beater on Saturday conjured up feelings of a buzzer beater that wasn't—Gordon Hayward's halfcourt heave that rimmed out vs. Duke in the 2010 men's national title game. That game happened 11 years ago today, at the same site of this year's championship: Lucas Oil Stadium. One of my favorite Sports Illustrated stories ever is Tim Layden's excellent one-year-later follow-up piece about that game's dramatic final two minutes, 'A Fling and a Prayer.' —M.G.