After an enemy without a face robbed sports fans and bettors of March Madness last year, the 2021 NCAA men's Final Four matchup between the No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga Bulldogs and No. 11 seed UCLA Bruins reminded the world why this season was worth every effort to navigate COVID-19 pauses in addition to withstanding a tournament "bubble". It will be nearly impossible for Gonzaga and Baylor to match that instant classic we all witnessed unfold on Saturday, but if two teams can accomplish the task it's these two No. 1 seeds. The Bears, who will be making their first title game appearance since 1950, will be facing a 31-0 Bulldogs team that is on a mission to become the first undefeated team win a national championship since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers.
Clear your schedule, get your favorite game day food and grab a seat on the couch because you will not want to miss these two closely matched foes facing off on the hardwood later tonight. After sharing two NCAA Final Four bets late last week that are alive to cash this evening, SI Gambling is here to take a closer look at the betting lines as well as the individual match-ups that will likely play pivotal roles in deciding the outcome.
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All SI PRO members will be awaiting the outcome of two NCAA tournament futures markets later tonight. The NCAA tournament betting plays have followed up major financial success, thanks to Alabama (+220), Illinois (+375) and Georgia Tech (+2500) all delivering conference tournament championship victories in the SEC, Big Ten and ACC, respectively, for all SI PRO members.
In addition to the Vegas Whispers, the unofficial respected plays and information have gone 32-25-0 ATS since February in college basketball for SI PRO subscribers.
Against the Spread and Straight-Up Numbers in the NCAA Men's Tournament
In the opening round, favorites went 21–11 straight-up (SU) but posted an 18–13 (58.1%) ATS mark.
Favorites went 10–6 SU and 9–7 ATS in a thrilling second round that saw No. 15 Oral Roberts (+330), No. 12 Oregon State (+225), No. 11 Syracuse (+155) and No. 8 Loyola Chicago (+285) pull off outright upsets.
In the Sweet 16, favorites went 6–2 SU and 5–3 ATS, with only two underdogs winning straight-up, when No. 12 Oregon State (+255) and No. 11 UCLA (+245) notched victories over No. 8 Loyola Chicago and No. 2 Alabama, respectively. One eye-popping trend in the Sweet 16 was games cashing 6–2 to the under against the totals posted by oddsmakers.
In the Elite Eight, favorites went 3–1 SU and 2–2 ATS, with only one outright upset by an underdog when UCLA, at odds of +260, came through for their backers. Backing the under against the posted total was the way to go as three of the four Elite Eight games stayed under the betting projections by sportsbooks.
In the Final Four, favorites went 2-0 SU and 1-1 ATS, with both games seeing a plentiful amount of points scored en route to easily eclipsing the posting totals offered by oddsmakers and going 2-0 to the over.
Leading up to the Championship game, favorites are ahead 42–20 SU while underdogs hold a slim advantage at 31–30 ATS. Over the last 14 games of the tournament, betting the under has been a financially rewarding investment going 9–5 (64%).
Historical Trends in the Championship Game
Last 10 Tournaments—Favorites in Title Game:
- Straight-up (SU): 7-3 (70%)
- Against the spread (ATS): 6-4 (60%)
Since 2020—Favorites in Title Game:
- Straight-up (SU): 14-6 (70%)
- Against the spread (ATS): 13-7 (65%)
Underdogs have won three of the last six championship games both SU and ATS: 2016 (Villanova +2), 2015 (Duke +1.5) and 2014 (Connecticut +2.5). On a larger view, dating back to 2000 six of the seven (85.7%) underdogs that have covered ATS have won the title game outright.
Betting Odds and Breakdowns
Editor's Note: Odds are subject to change.
No. 1 Baylor vs No. 1 Gonzaga
Spread: No. 1 Baylor +4.5 (-108) | No. 1 Gonzaga -4.5 (-112)
Total: 159– Over (-110) | Under 159 (-110)
Moneyline: Baylor +163 | Gonzaga -210
Game Info: Monday, April 5, 2021 9:20 pm EST / 6:20 pm PST | CBS
Records: BAY: 27-2 (SU); 19-10 (ATS)| GONZAGA: 31-0 (SU); 16-13-2 (ATS)
Site: Lucas Oil Stadium
Editor's Note - Odds are subject to change.
The line has held steady since the opener displaying No. 1 Gonzaga (31-0 SU; 16-13-2 ATS) as 4.5-point favorites over No. 1 Baylor (7-2 SU; 19-10 ATS) at DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Bears head into the championship game after earning straight-up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) wins over Hartford (-25.5), Wisconsin (-6.5) and Villanova (-7.5). In the Elite Eight, Baylor got by Arkansas (-7.5), 81-72, before dismantling the Houston Cougars (-5) in the Final Four, 78-59. Baylor has been an extremely profitable team for bettors to back going 4-1 ATS thus far in the tournament. The Bears have flipped the script after being a financial drain heading into the NCAA tournament off a 1-4 ATS stretch in early March.
Baylor has been sensational all season posting an outstanding 27-2 record, thanks to one of the best backcourts in the country led by Jared Butler (16.6 points per game). Baylor also gets solid production from MaCio Teague (15.8 points per game) and Davion Mitchell (14.0 points per game). All three talented guards shoot above 39% from three-point range forming arguably one the nation’s best trio’s from beyond the arc.
The clear offensive leader is Butler who is averaging 17.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game in the club’s five tournament games. As a team, Baylor drained 11 of 24 (46%) shots from three-point range in the Final Four blowout win over the Razorbacks, with Butler leading the way shooting 67% from the field while going four of five (80%) from deep.
As expected, No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga had faced little resistance in their first four games of the NCAA tournament rolling past Norfolk State (-33), Oklahoma (-15.5), Creighton (-11.5) and USC (85-66) by a combined 94 points (an average of 24.0 points per win). The Bulldogs easily went 4-0 ATS in those tournament games, thanks to being the most complete team in the field.
However, Gonzaga encountered its first taste of adversity in the Final Four against a Bruins team oddsmakers believed were worthy of being 14.5-point underdogs. No. 11 UCLA, who needed to earn an overtime victory in the play-in round over Michigan State just to earn a spot in the round of 64, almost pulled off an upset for the ages. However, Gonzaga freshman point guard Jalen Suggs, a projected top-three overall NBA lottery pick, banked in one of the greatest shots in NCAA tournament history as the clock expired in overtime to give Gonzaga a thrilling 93-90 win.
The all-round talent, who was just two assists shy of posting a triple-double against USC in the Elite Eight, will face easily the biggest test of his young collegiate career drawing arguably the best perimeter defender in college basketball in Baylor’s Davion Mitchell. The junior guard, who was recently named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, will be assigned the task of containing Suggs. Mitchell's defensive prowess and offensive emergence has enabled fellow backcourt teammate Jared Butler to flourish in one-on-one off the ball sets from the point position. This is easily the matchup that will likely determine which one of these immensely talented teams emerges as national champion.
On the block, Gonzaga also receives solid production from talented big-man Drew Timme (19.2 points per game / 7.1 rebounds). The star sophomore has been sensational in the last four tournament games averaging 25.0 points per game thanks to shooting a blistering 68% from the field. If Suggs is able to drive and distribute efficiently, Timme is likely the player to benefit the most both - resulting in tremendous post up looks or great back cuts to the rim that have become a staple of this prolific Mark Few offense that leads in the country in scoring at 91.8 points per game.