Mythical March Madness Goes Overtime in the Final Between Bears and Bulldogs
With overall No. 1 seed Kansas put away on Saturday evening by Big 12 Conference rival Baylor, this sure looked like the Final Four and NCAA Championship that had Gonzaga and head coach Mark Few's name on it. Baylor was good, but the Bears would have trouble with the back, athletic front line of Gonzaga and the Bulldogs backcourt was also Final Four worthy. Cinderella's can come in all forms and on this championship Monday Cinderella came dressed in green and gold and playing lights out defense.
Publisher's Note: This concludes our go at Mythical March Madness with the championship game. The tournament and results were determined using all-time odds for each seed in NCAA Division I Men's Tournament history for advancement in each round. The roll of dice with rolls of six or below representing the higher-seeded team and rolls of seven or greater representing the lower-seeded team determine the results. If the game is written up as close then the roll of the dice went to the eighth, ninth, or tenth roll. In the case of the championship game where Gonzaga had a 56 percent chance of winning and Baylor at 44 percent. It came down to the ninth roll with each team at four rolls apiece and Baylor got the ninth. All of our sites throughout the tournament were meant to honor the great venues of NCAA history including the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium for the Final Four.
The overtime had been just as methodical and screwed down as the entire game. Tied at 58-58, Baylor and Gonzaga had gone to the extra five minutes only to see Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi of the Bulldogs foul out and the Bears Freddie Gillespie got his ticket to the bench and a towel punched with 41 seconds left.
Gonzaga 6-10 freshman Drew Timme went to the free throw line and acted like a fifth-year senior knocking down the two free throws without looking like he gave it a second thought and Gonzaga led 64-63.
The Bears inbound the basketball and Mark Vital, a primary defensive contributor that was only averaging around six-points found himself with the basketball and a wide open 12-footer. He put it up and it came through barely touching the net for a 65-64 Baylor lead.
Few called time out and set the play up he wanted. With just 19 seconds on the clock Admon Gilder threw the pass into Ryan Wooldridge and he dribbled to his left before firing a pass to Filip Petrusev on the low block on the left side and Petrusev went up to the basket only to had the 6-5 Vital get a hand on the shot and knock it away. Baylor's Davion Mitchell scooped up the loose ball and sprinted down the court before he was headed off by Gilder.
Mitchell could have tried to force the ball and draw a foul, but he saw a green jersey flashing to his right and he threw the ball just in front of the streaking Vital, who laid the ball off the glass and in with three seconds on the clock for a 67-64 lead. Vital scoring the last four points for Baylor, part of his total of six points in the entire game.
Gonzaga came back threw the ball to the most open man in the freshman Timme, who tried a 17-footer from the right side and it clanged off the heel of the rim and into the hands of Tristan Clark. Ball game! Baylor had their first ever Men's Basketball National Championship with the 67-64 win. The Lady Bears have won three basketball national championships, but this was the first for the men.
Baylor finishes with a 32-4 record, while Gonzaga, heartbroken with players openly sobbing on the floor finished up as runner-up with a 36-3 record.
The entire game was close and would have to go down as a defensive gem for the two head coaches. Baylor's Scott Drew had been complimented for his team's defense all year and the aggressive man-to-man held Gonzaga to a shooting percentage of 37 percent despite the height advantage. Petrusev and Wooldridge tied for scoring honors for the Zags with 14 points,
The score was 26-23 at halftime in favor of Baylor, who was led by Jared Butler with 16 points and MaCio Teague with 13 points, but it was the man with six, Vital, that counted the most in the end.