How USC Can Attempt to Pull Off a Mammoth Upset of Gonzaga
The Trojans face an uphill climb against Gonzaga, but there's a path for Evan Mobley and Co. to victory. As soon as the West Region (or, more aptly, Gonzaga’s region) was announced three Sundays ago, it was widely tipped as an easy path for the No. 1 overall seed. To be fair, Mark Few’s Zags have beaten all comers. They’ve often made things look pretty simple, drubbing Creighton by 18 points to earn their Elite Eight bid.
INDIANAPOLIS — Baylor coach Scott Drew revealed on Sunday that he and Gonzaga coach Mark Few have been saying prayers for each other's teams in this men's NCAA Tournament – hoping that each would reach the national championship game.
Now that the goal has been realized and No. 1-seed Baylor will meet No. 1-seed Gonzaga in the final Monday night, Drew quipped: "I guess he won’t get that prayer text before this one."
The two have become close friends over the last two years.
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"Look, we've always had Baylor in the rearview mirror or whatever, in the back seat," Few told reporters. "Kind of as: 'If we're going to win this thing, we're probably, at some point, going to have to play them.' Because I always thought we were the two best teams."
How to beat Gonzaga: Can Evan Mobley and the Trojans challenge the Bulldogs?
Gonzaga has been unstoppable all year, but USC is a worthy adversaryIt’s probably worth mentioning that I personally hold a preseason futures ticket for Gonzaga to win the title at the best price of 10/1. I will share if/ how much I will be hedging my futures bet for those that are in a similar position.
The two have been out front all season, with Baylor starting as the No. 1 team in the Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll in November before Gonzaga leapfrogged the Bears several weeks into the season. Gonzaga leads KenPom in offensive efficiency and Baylor is No. 2. They were slated to meet Dec. 5 before a COVID-19 cancellation.
Fate wasn't having it then. But it's happening now – on the biggest stage. The prize will be the first national title for one coach.
Rarely in college basketball do the highest-ranked teams meet in the national championship. The single-elimination style of March Madness doesn't typically allow it. This is the first time in more than a decade there are two No. 1 NCAA Tournament seeds in the championship game, and only the fifth time since 1999.
2021 NCAA Tournament Final Four odds: UCLA vs. Gonzaga picks, March Madness predictions by expert on 21-9 run
Larry Hartstein has nailed 21 of his last 30 college basketball picks and now he's revealed selections for Gonzaga vs. UCLA in the 2021 NCAA Tournament Final Four contest Saturday on CBS. The Bulldogs (30-0) have dominated, winning all four of their tournament games by double figures and have won their last 27 games by at least 10 points. The last team to come within single digits was 13th ranked West Virginia, which dropped an 87-82 decision to the Zags on Dec. 2. The Bruins (22-9), which had to get by Michigan State 86-80 in overtime in a First Four matchup, have already defeated a No. 1 seed in Michigan and a No.
“I think you have elite on elite,” Drew said. "It reminds me of Lakers vs. Celtics (in the 1980s)."
So which one is Magic Johnson's Lakers, and which is Larry Bird's Celtics?
MATCHUP: Keys to victory for men's NCAA Tournament championship game
PERFECTION?: Gonzaga coach Mark Few reveals Bob Knight's advice
Undefeated Gonzaga has been the clear-cut favorite all season with Suggs – a projected lottery pick – running the point, first-team All-American Corey Kispert on the perimeter and big man Drew Timme bolstering the in-and-out game. But the Zags looked mortal in an overtime victory against UCLA in the Final Four, where it took Suggs' buzzer-beating, banked three-pointer to advance.
Baylor had two regular-season losses but found its championship form on Saturday, demolishing Houston. The Bears' nation-leading three-point shooting and dynamic guard play were on full display. First-team All-American Jared Butler is the catalyst, while national defensive player of the year Davion Mitchell is arguably the best player. MaCio Teague completes the trio of guards Drew believes to be "one of the best in college basketball history."
Baylor’s Win Should Remove Any Doubt: Baylor Can Absolutely Beat Gonzaga on Monday Night
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets won a hard-fought overtime game against the Duke Blue Devils, 81-77. Moses Wright led the Yellow Jackets with 29 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists. Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher scored 15 and 14 points respectively.
This long-awaited matchup has been two years in the making, as both were set to be No. 1 seeds before COVID-19 led to the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Tournament. "We got robbed of the opportunity," Drew said. Both programs are chasing their first-ever national championship.
“We’ve followed what (Gonzaga has) done, they’ve followed what we’ve done, and I know it’s motivated us to continue to get better," Drew said. "To continue to try and improve to keep up and keep pace. You need teams like this to bring out the best in you.”
Few said he wished Baylor and Gonzaga had been able to play earlier in the season so a rematch could have determined the national title.
"I think the way it turned out is probably the best scenario you could possibly imagine for college basketball in general and, heck, sports in America."
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.
Final Four: Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs celebrates with teammates after hitting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in overtime that lifted the Bulldogs past No. 11 UCLA and into the men's national championship game.
Elight Eight: Houston Cougars guard DeJon Jarreau cause a jump ball against Oregon State Beavers guard Ethan Thompson during the second half in the Elite Eight of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Sweet 16: Creighton Bluejays center Ryan Kalkbrenner chases a loose ball against Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Jalen Suggs in the second half at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
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Sweet 16: Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Eric Musselman celebrates with guard Davonte Davis (4) after the Razorbacks defeated Oral Roberts Golden Eagles in the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 27, 2021. Arkansas beat Oral Roberts 72-70.
Sweet 16: Villanova Wildcats forward Brandon Slater (3) fights for the ball with Baylor Bears forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (23) and Baylor Bears forward Flo Thamba (0) during the 2021 NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 27, 2021. Baylor won 62-51.
Sweet 16: Oregon State Beavers guard Zach Reichle (11) passes the ball against Loyola-Chicago Ramblers guard Keith Clemons (left) in the first half during the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 27, 2021. Oregon State won 65-58.
Second round: Oklahoma Sooners guard Austin Reaves (12) passes the ball around Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Anton Watson during the first half in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Second round: Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim signals to forward Quincy Guerrier and forward Kadary Richmond during the second round game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind.
Second round: Baylor Bears guard Matthew Mayer (left) and guard Mark Vital battle for a loose ball with Wisconsin Badgers forward Micah Potter (11) during the first half in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Second round: Illinois Fighting Illini guard Andre Curbelo and Loyola (Il) Ramblers guard Marquise Kennedy fight for a loose ball during the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament on Sunday, March 21, 2021, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind.
First round: Southern California Trojans guard Ethan Anderson (20) goes to the basket while defended by Drake Bulldogs forward Darnell Brodie (51) during the first half in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
First round: Texas Southern Tigers guard Michael Weathers (20) and guard Ashton McClelland (23) react after a loss to the Michigan Wolverines as Michigan guard Franz Wagner (21) walks past in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Mackey Arena.
First round: Creighton Bluejays guard Denzel Mahoney dives to save a ball from going out of bound during the second half against the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium.
First round: Florida State Seminoles guard Scottie Barnes, left, and UNCG Spartans guard Isaiah Miller battle for a loose ball during the second half in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
First round: Eastern Washington Eagles head coach Shantay Legans reacts to a call during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks during the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
First round: Georgetown Hoyas guard Donald Carey controls the ball as Colorado Buffaloes forward Dallas Walton falls to the floor during the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
First round: Oklahoma State forward Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe drives to the basket against Liberty guard Elijah Cuffee during their game at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum on March 19. The Cowboys won 69-60.
First round: Oregon State Beavers guard Jarod Lucas (2) and Tennessee Volunteers guard Yves Pons (35) battle for a loose ball during the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Mar 19, 2021. Oregon State upset Tennessee 70-56.
First round: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets guard Jose Alvarado (5) and Loyola (Il) Ramblers guard Braden Norris (4) compete for possession during the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 19, 2021, at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Loyola won 71-60.
First round; Oral Roberts Golden Eagles celebrate after an overtime victory against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Mackey Arena on Mar 19, 2021. Oral Roberts upset Ohio State 75-72 in overtime.
First round: Kyler Edwards #11 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders celebrates making a three point basket during the second half against the Utah State Aggies in the first round game of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Assembly Hall on March 19, 2021 in Bloomington, Indiana. Texas Tech won 65-53.
First round: Illinois Fighting Illini center Kofi Cockburn (21) is fouled by Drexel Dragons forward James Butler (51) during the 2021 NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 19, 2021, at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, Ind. Illinois won 78-49.
First round: Colgate Raiders guard Jack Ferguson (13) and Arkansas Razorbacks forward Justin Smith (0) fight for possession during the 2021 NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 19, 2021, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. Arkansas won 85-68.
First round: Florida Gators forward Colin Castleton (12) blocks the shot of Virginia Tech Hokies guard Tyrece Radford (23) during the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Mar 19, 2021. Florida won the game 75-70.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Baylor vs. Gonzaga for men's national title looking like classic Lakers vs. Celtics
Brad Stevens says Indiana Hoosiers never offered him a contract .
Stevens is in his eighth season with the Celtics.Speaking on ABC Saturday ahead of the network’s telecast for the Boston Celtics-Golden State Warriors game, Adrian Wojnarowski shared some news on Stevens. Woj said that Indiana was prepared to offer Stevens a 10-year, $70 million contract. He never said that Stevens actually was offered such a contract, just that the Hoosiers were supposedly prepared to offer it.