INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — From the beginning of the season, the Baylor Bears have been in the national championship conversation. Along with Gonzaga, most consider this Baylor team as the most likely to be in the final game. They found themselves in the No. 2 spot in the AP Poll for 15 of the 17 weeks the poll was released. Entering the tournament, falling short of the final game would have been a letdown for an elite team like Baylor.
To avoid that letdown, Baylor (26-2) would have to find a way past their in-state rivals, the Houston Cougars (28-3). Many wondered how an elite offense like Baylor (6th in the country, 83 PPG) would deal with an elite Houston defense (2nd in the country, 57.6 OPP PPG).
Well, it did not take long to find out. Baylor blitzed Houston from the jump, taking a double-digit lead under 10 minutes into the game. Baylor never looked back as their offense led them to a 78-59 win to reach the National Championship.
In the first half, Baylor had a steady showing from their offense and defense. They locked down Houston while Jared Butler caught fire from behind the arc; he had 14 of his 17 points in the first half, hitting 3 shots from downtown. This led to an 18 to 3 run to end the half and a 25-point Baylor halftime lead.
For Baylor, Davion Mitchell turned in another stellar performance. He finished with a double-double, scoring 12 points and dropping 11 assists. Five Baylor players scored in double-figures, with Matthew Mayer adding 12 points off the bench.
Baylor sets up canceled matchup from earlier in the season
Throughout the season, college basketball fans have had to deal with an ever-changing schedule. During the regular season, over 200 games were canceled or postponed due to the ongoing pandemic and weather concerns. Even during the tournament, Oregon reached the 2nd round uncontested after VCU was forced to drop out with positive COVID-19 tests.
However, no cancelation or postponement meant as much as the December 5 game between Gonzaga and Baylor. Even early in the season, it was clear to everyone that these were the top teams in the nation. Unfortunately, positive COVID-19 tests forced a cancellation hours before tip-off.
Now, Baylor and Gonzaga are poised to match up with the National Championship at stake. Both teams will be competing for their first championship; Baylor was the runner-up in 1948, while Gonzaga fell short in the 2017 title game.
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 1 Baylor, Monday, April 5, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.