Gonzaga and Dayton Battle in East-West Struggle to Make Mythical March Madness Title Game
Gonzaga passed every challenge in Oregon at McArthur Court, including beating hometown team Oregon, while Dayton shook off the lack of respect that some teams gave them in Philadelphia to conquer The Palestra. Now two of the best big men of the season Filip Petrusev of Gonzaga and Obi Toppin of Dayton and their teams square off in Kansas City.
Publisher's Note: This is our go at Mythical March Madness and now entering the fourth round. The tournament and results are 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. If it is written up as a blowout then it was decided with few rolls needed. This is the Final Four with all top seeds, Kansas, Baylor, Gonzaga, and Dayton; making their way to Kansas City and the famed Municipal Auditorium.
Unlike the first game on the schedule inside Municipal Auditorium that saw Big 12 rivals Baylor and Kansas battle to the final seconds, this game was surprisingly decided early and never really in question. Earlier in the tournament, the All-American and Player of the Year in Dayton's Obi Toppin declared for the NBA Draft.
Tonight Toppin looked as if he had already left the Flyers and was thinking about the NBA. The 63 percent shooter from the field missed his first five shots. When Toppin made it to the line for the first time, crunched while going up for a lay-in, he missed both shots and actually air-balled the first free throw. During the season coming in, Toppin had been a 70 percent shooter from the charity stripe.
To be fair, Gonzaga plants more size in the paint than Toppin and Dayton have been used to seeing. Besides the 6-11 Petrusev, 6-10 senior Killian Tillie and 6-7 Corey Kispert started and were playing close to the basket to make for more obstacles for Toppin. Off the bench was freshman Drew Timme with his 6-10 frame also causing issues.
On the offensive end, the Bulldogs did a nice job of mixing the offense up with the outside game of Ryan Wooldridge, Joel Ayiya and Texas A&M transfer Admon Gilder and the "aircraft carriers" inside. Gonzaga outscored Dayton 22-10 in the first 10 minutes of the first half and rode out a 38-24 halftime advantage.
Wooldridge had 11 points at the half and Gilder added nine points and Petrusev had eight. Gonzaga was shooting 46 percent while Dayton was held to 22 percent shooting.
The first four minutes of the second half, Mark Few and his team put it away against Toppin, Jalen Crutcher and head coach Anthony Grant and the Flyers. Kispert knocked down a three after the Zags stole the ball on the first possession. The Bulldogs proceeded to outscore Dayton with a 12-3 run to start the second half. The Flyers called time out trailing 50-27. It never got any closer.
Wooldridge finished with a game high 26 points an Kispert with a big second half had 19 points.
Gonzaga earned the right to play Baylor on Monday night the Mythical March Madness championship as they beat Dayton 78-to-52. Dayton and Toppin, who an NCAA Tournament low for him with 13 points, finish with a 33-3 record.
Gonzaga has a 36-2 record going against Baylor's 31-4 as they will meet on Monday night for the championship.