NCAA Tournament Final Reaction: Gonzaga Wasn't Overrated, Baylor Was Just That Good

The Baylor Bears celebrate after beating the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the national championship game during the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium
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Andrew Ortenberg

NCAAB

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I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up.

What a tournament. The 2021 edition of March Madness is officially in the books, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Things got off to a great start in the Round of 64, and the action only got better as the games went on. There were shocking upsets, overtime thrillers, and everything in between. Baylor wrapped things up by topping Gonzaga 86-70 in the title game, completing an epic program turnaround that Scott Drew started nearly 20 years ago.

It’s sad the college basketball season is over, but we’ve still got a lot to digest. First and foremost, thanks for sticking with us and our content during this March Madness. We all had a heck of a time, and one of the last orders of business is reacting to what we just saw. Here are my main takeaways from Baylor’s triumph over Gonzaga:

Don’t say Gonzaga was overrated

They almost pulled off perfection, but ultimately came up just short. Gonzaga was so close to completing the undefeated season, but it wasn’t meant to be. With the lopsided final score, many were quick to declare the Bulldogs fraudulent. The critics were out in full force immediately, deriding Gonzaga for playing in the West Coast Conference amidst other slander.

But that’s a bit ridiculous. The notion that Gonzaga didn’t have to play anybody because of the WCC simply isn’t true. They went out of their way to schedule tough non-conference games, and beat Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa, and Virginia during the regular season. They demolished Oklahoma, Creighton, and USC to get to the Final Four.

There’s no reason for them to feel particularly embarrassed or exposed. They had a bad game, it happens. If they had gone out and lost to Oklahoma in the Round of 32, some of this discourse might’ve been justified. But coming up one game short of winning it all? No. That’s because the team they lost to, as we’re about to discuss, was just that good.

Baylor was just that good

Let’s not get caught up in debating Gonzaga’s merits until we’re red in the face. Let’s celebrate the actual champions, the Baylor Bears. Baylor is a truly incredible turnaround story, as the program was an absolute disaster when Drew took over. When Drew was hired, the idea that he’d lead them to a national championship would’ve been laughable.

Baylor started 18-0, but slipped up a couple times in the final month of the season, causing many to forget how good they were. Once the games really started to matter they turned their defensive intensity up, and nobody stood a chance after that. Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Davion Mitchell formed one of the best backcourts in college basketball history.

It’s a shame we’re not going to get to see those three take the court together again. We’ll be talking about this tournament run for many years to come, as they straight up bullied every opponent they faced.

They completely smothered Wisconsin, then Villanova, then Arkansas, then Houston. When it finally came time to play one of the best offenses in recent memory, they smothered Gonzaga too. It’s hard to find any faults in their past handful of games, and there’s nothing you can do except tip your hat.

Until next March…

Sad that March Madness is over? You’re in luck because Pickswise is the home of free NBA predictions , NHL predictions, and MLB predictions.

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