Well, it has been a collision course since the beginning of 2020. It seems inevitable, but will we get it?
I am talking about Baylor versus Gonzaga. Goliath versus Goliath, The Rolling Stones versus The Beatles or Superman versus Batman (not the Dawn of Justice version, though).
These two teams meeting in the National Championship would be the most highly profiled title matchup in quite some time.
Let us examine the best bets on PointsBet, regarding who can defeat Baylor or Gonzaga before or in the NCAA Championship.
Who can beat Gonzaga?
Gonzaga would become the first undefeated team to win a National Championship since Indiana in 1976. Gonzaga would also become the third non-Power Five team to win a National Championship since 1990 and win its first-ever in doing so.
The Bulldogs entered as the top seed with their unblemished record. In the West Region, Gonzaga will meet No. 5 Creighton in the Sweet 16 before potential paths with No. 6 USC/No. 7 Oregon in the Elite 8, then either No. 1 Michigan, No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 Florida State or No. 11 UCLA in the Final Four.
Per Kenpom rankings, only three times in Gonzaga's path to the Championship Game are ranked in the top 10, No. 1 Michigan (3), No. 6 USC (6) and No. 2 Alabama (8).
West Virginia is the only team in the nation to keep the final score within 10 points of Gonzaga this season, so it is no easy task to even get within striking distance.
Kenpom gives Gonzaga a 86% chance at victory and NBC's model pegs Gonzaga as the third-best odds to earn a win this weekend, following Arkansas and Loyola-Chicago.
I think Gonzaga is a lock to beat Creighton and I like the chances of an Elite 8 win over USC or Oregon. The toughest challenge Gonzaga will face would be versus Baylor in the title. A Final Four date with Michigan, Alabama or Florida State would be challenging, but I believe Michigan and Alabama present the best chance at knocking off Gonzaga.
Gonzaga owns the No. 1 adjusted offensive efficiency in the nation (126.3) and is one-of-three teams to rank top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency. Teams that got within 15 points of Gonzaga averaged 78.2 points per game and that was only seven teams.
Slowing down Gonzaga does not seem possible, so scoring with them will be the name of the game. Alabama and Michigan scored 79 or more in three of their last four games. Both Alabama and Michigan have size down low to compete with Corey Kispert and Drew Timme of Gonzaga.
Alabama has Herbert Jones and Jordan Bruner. Michigan has Hunter Dickinson and Franz Wagner. Alabama plays at the 11th-quickest tempo offensively and the third offensive average length per possession (14.2), ranked right behind Gonzaga, who is second. Michigan is top 10 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, one-of-three teams to rank top 10 in both.
It might be personal for Michigan to make the Final Four or beyond since the Big Ten is the butt of all jokes right now, but I prefer Alabama as the strongest competitor to knock off Gonzaga outside of Baylor in the title game.
Gonzaga is +140 to win the National Championship and -300 to make the Final Four. The Bulldogs are -13 point favorites versus Creighton in the Sweet 16 and have beat 23-of-28 opponents by that margin this season. Michigan is +175 to reach the Final Four, while Alabama is +150 and Florida State is +250.
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Who can beat Baylor?
Luckily, Baylor has arguably the easiest road to the Final Four after we thought Gonzaga had it made. Baylor faces Villanova as -7 point favorites, while Arkansas lands a -11.5 point tag over Oral Roberts in the South Region.
We may see two blowouts this Saturday in favor of Arkansas and Baylor. Regardless of whom the Bears face in the Elite 8, they will be heavy favorites and more than likely backed by the public and sharps.
Villanova is 4-5 SU (44.4%) this season when they allow opponents to score 70 or more points. Baylor has scored at least 74 points in seven straight games and averaging 78.4 points per game over the previous 10. Baylor is 22-1 SU (95.6%) this season when they score 74 or more points. Baylor has scored 74 or more in seven straight games entering this Sweet 16 matchup.
The Bears possess the third-highest ranked offensive adjusted efficiency (122.8) and the nation's best three-point percentage (41.5%). Baylor owns the rebounding advantage over Villanova in the last five games, averaging 36.8 to 33.2. The Wildcats rank 237th in the country, allowing 34.9% of the opponent's triples to go down successfully.
In the Big East, that number declined to 35.4%. However, Villanova held North Texas and Winthrop to 15-of-48 (31.2%) from deep in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament - a significant positive for the Wildcats.
If you think Arkansas is the best bet here, the +200 is a solid value for the Final Four in the South Region. I have a +800 pre-tournament bet on Arkansas to make the Final Four and even I do not even feel confident in the Razorbacks winning a meeting with Baylor.
The best bet to take down the Bears more than likely lies with Gonzaga or a surprise team out of the Midwest Region. Houston and Loyola-Chicago are two defensive-minded squads that will compete for every possession with Baylor if given the opportunity.
Syracuse and Oregon State are the two hot hands offensively right now, and they could both be stifled and sent home by the favorites this weekend.
If I was a betting man, which I happen to be, I am betting on Baylor and Arkansas to advance and the Bears to reach the Final Four (-167). Baylor and Gonzaga seem to be on a collision course and I like the chance they get to within one game of each other. As of now, Baylor has the simpler road to the Final Four and Championship Game.
Baylor is +350 to win the National Championship and -167 to make the Final Four. The Bears are -7 point favorites versus Villanova and have beat 21-of-26 teams by the margin this season.
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