After last night’s defensive showdown and thrilling finish to the 2021 NCAA Division I women’s basketball championship game, where Stanford defeated Arizona, 54-53, the NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship game is tonight with Gonzaga (31-0) facing off against Baylor (27-2). They were the best two teams in the country this season, and many people wanted to see this national championship game. It has!
You can watch the game at around 9:20 p.m. ET on CBS (broadcast TV baby!). In the DMV, that’s on WUSA-TV, or Channel 9. That’s after pre game coverage and starting lineup announcements. It’s also going to start right about when tonight’s Washington Wizards game ends against the Toronto Raptors. In a pre-pandemic year, the NBA wouldn’t hold games on the same night as the NCAA men’s basketball championship. But this is an exception due to a compressed schedule.
In terms of program history, both teams are looking for their first NCAA men’s basketball championship.
For Gonzaga, they will try to be the first undefeated team in Division I men’s college basketball history since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers, who went 32-0 and were led by Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight. This is also Gonzaga’s second Final Four overall, their last coming in 2017. They have always been one of the nation’s top teams though they are in the WCC which is considered to be a “mid major conference.”
As for Baylor, they haven’t been in the Final Four since 1950, and haven’t made the championship game since 1948. That said, the Bears have emerged as one of the Big 12’s perennial contenders over the past decade.
We aren’t here to talk about college history, you can read The Slipper Still Fits, Gonzaga’s SB Nation site and Our Daily Bears, Baylor’s SB Nation site for team-oriented coverage on that. For us, we’re a bit more concerned about the players who are NBA Draft prospects. Furthermore. the Washington Wizards are one of the NBA’s worst teams and could very well have a Top-5 pick for the draft which will be in July.
Here are the players in tonight’s game who are also among ESPN’s Top 100 Draft Prospects:
- No. 5, Gonzaga G Jalen Suggs (Fr)
- No. 10, Gonzaga F Corey Kispert (Sr)
- No. 12, Baylor G Davion Mitchell (Jr)
- No. 26, Baylor G Jared Butler (Jr)
- No. 62, Gonzaga SG Joel Ayayi (Jr)
The top prospects whom Washington could pick in the first round of this year’s draft include Gonzaga’s Suggs (who is averaging 14.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 4.6 apg), Kispert who is averaging 18.8 ppg and Baylor’s Mitchell (14 ppg and 5.5 apg). It’s also possible Butler, Baylor’s leading scorer (16.6 ppg) and Ayayi (12.2 ppg) see their stock rise. Ayayi has crept up into the first round on some mock drafts. And though I don’t think he’s a first round pick, Gonzaga’s Drew Timme (19.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.3 apg) has been their post anchor all season long, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he stays one more season — something not uncommon for their program.
The interesting thing about the Wizards and the most of top prospects in tonight’s game is that they are all guards. The Wizards’ top players are Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, both of whom, in theory, will be in D.C. through at least 2022 before their player options could kick in. Expect Westbrook to take his option, not so sure with Beal.
If the Wizards were to pick up Suggs or Mitchell specifically this summer, that would put Washington in an interesting position. Would that be enough for them to try to trade Beal or Westbrook (or both) away this summer? Or could you see a scenario where they manage all the guards’ minutes somehow to thread the needle between which players start and keeping everyone happy with playing time? That’s the biggest question I have based on the prospects playing tonight.