NCAA March Madness betting: Baylor wins, covers, and shows they're capable of beating Gonzaga

Frank Schwab
·3-min read

Based on the odds to win the championship before the Sweet 16, Gonzaga would be a significant favorite over Baylor in the NCAA championship game. 

Maybe that matchup will be closer than the point spread would indicate. 

Baylor cruised to a Final Four with a win over Arkansas. Like the Sweet 16 game against Villanova, the Bears were challenged and looked like they might not cover the spread, but they eventually got the win and the cover. 

The cover was in doubt late in the game. Arkansas kept it within range of the 8-point spread in the final minutes. Arkansas cut Baylor's lead to 81-72 with 9.4 seconds left but stopped fouling and Baylor got the 1-point cover. That made many people happy, considering 64 percent of the money bet on the game at BetMGM was on Baylor. 

Gonzaga is undefeated and a fine team, and the Bulldogs should be favored over Baylor if the two meet next Monday night. But don't hand the trophy to Gonzaga yet. Baylor is a formidable contender too. 

Baylor ends up covering

Baylor was hot in the first half and jumped out to a fast lead but Arkansas stayed in the game. The Razorbacks cut the lead to 4 in the second half, even after J.D. Notae fouled out with about 14 minutes left. Arkansas looked like it could get the straight-up win. 

But like the win against Villanova, Baylor has an impressive gear that can put away a game. Baylor put on the defensive clamps for a long stretch while they pushed the lead from 4 to double digits. Arkansas went more than eight minutes without hitting a field goal. Baylor took over the game.  

There were enough cheap points late in the game to push the total over. It moved from 149.5 to 147.5 because of many bets on the under. 

Baylor also got the cover, their third straight for bettors this tournament. 

Matthew Mayer and the Baylor Bears advanced to a Final Four. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Matthew Mayer and the Baylor Bears advanced to a Final Four. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Can Baylor challenge Gonzaga? 

Baylor still has one big step to go before it could play Gonzaga. The Bears will face the Houston Cougars in the Final Four, and Houston is obviously capable of winning that game. 

But if Gonzaga wins two more and Baylor beats Houston, don't count out the Bears in a title-game showdown. Gonzaga was +150 to win the championship before the Sweet 16 and Baylor had the second-lowest odds at +450 at BetMGM. When Monday's games ended, Gonzaga was +150 with Baylor behind at +300. That's a significant gap, and the two teams aren't that far apart. 

Baylor and Gonzaga were considered equals through about mid-February. Gonzaga took over the headlines when Baylor lost a couple games. We are enamored when a team gets this deep in a season without a loss. The Bulldogs deserve all of the credit they get. They could go down as an all-time great college team. 

But a few teams that could have been considered in the best-ever class lost in the tournament. Baylor is capable of winning it all. They are good on both ends, experienced and can hit enough 3s to stay in any game, even one against mighty Gonzaga. It would be a fun title game. Let's see if we get it. 

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