Gonzaga vs. Baylor Betting Guide: Can Hot Shooting Bears Knock Zags out of NCAA Tournament?

Gonzaga vs. Baylor Betting Guide: Can Hot Shooting Bears Knock Zags out of NCAA Tournament? article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura, Baylor guard Makai Mason

#1 Gonzaga vs. #9 Baylor NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: Gonzaga -13.5
  • Over/Under: 148.5
  • Date: Saturday, March 23
  • Time: 7:10 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS
  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

>> All odds as of Friday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.

Gonzaga (22-12 against the spread) started its tournament with a junior varsity-like 87-49 blowout win over 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson. The Knights were on their second game in three days off a First Four victory, while the Bulldogs made a statement on the offensive and defensive ends.

Baylor (17-14-2 ATS) won the battle of zone defense in its 78-69 victory over Syracuse, limiting the Orange to 41% shooting from the field. The win broke a four-game losing streak for the Bears, who had won only four games since Feb. 3 leading into the NCAA Tournament.

How Baylor’s Win Translates to Round of 32

A closer look at the box score shows a Baylor team that shot a ridiculous 47% from 3-point range. Instead of attacking the Syracuse zone, Baylor put up 34 attempts with 16 successful from behind the arc.

The Bears were middle of the pack nationally in 3-point percentage with a rank of 167th during the regular season, but they do rank second in the nation in offensive rebound percentage. So second-chance points are nothing new for the Bears.

And in order to beat Gonzaga, it’s imperative that a team gives its best shooting and rebounding performance.

Saint Mary’s victory over Gonzaga in the WCC Final was a result of poor shooting from the Bulldogs thanks to pesky defense. The Bears are 52nd in opponent 2-point percentage, which gives them a chance to give the Bulldogs shooting issues.

Can Gonzaga Work Around the Baylor 1-3-1 Zone?

The 11% three-point shooting performance for Gonzaga against Saint Mary’s might have been an anomaly: The Bulldogs are the best 2-point shooting team in the nation.

While blocks are Baylor’s mission objective in the zone defense, Gonzaga is the best team in the nation in avoiding blocked shots.

Offensively, Gonzaga does not turn the ball over, shoots well from deep and is the best in the nation in getting a clean shot. Defensively, Baylor is a lowly 339th in offensive blocks, translating to a Bulldogs defense that should have plenty of deflections.

Finding Value

The point spread might seem large for a Round of 32 game, which could draw plenty of folks to the Baylor side of the ticket writing.

The Bears would have to replicate a near 50% 3-point effort with 30-plus attempts to beat Gonzaga — Syracuse could not expose Baylor’s faults in blocked shots, turnovers or defensive rebounding.

While Gonzaga is top 20 in free-throw shooting percentage, Baylor ranks 294th from the charity stripe. The Bulldogs should start down low with excellent passing and high percentage shots before taking some chances deep.

Unless Baylor shoots lights-out from long distance again — and the advanced stats say they won’t — the cover should be all Gonzaga as the Bulldogs march to the Sweet 16.

THE PICK: Gonzaga -13.5 (up to -14)

Our Projected Odds: Gonzaga vs. Baylor

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Gonzaga -12.5
  • Over/Under: 147.5
  • Score: Gonzaga 80 | Baylor 67.5
  • Win Probability: Gonzaga 89.6% | Baylor 10.4%

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game is from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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