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NCAA championship: Bulldogs or Bears?

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Only one team will see its title drought end. Will it be Gonzaga University or Baylor University?

The Bulldogs will be gunning for their first NCAA championship in record fashion, as a victory over the Bears will not only give Gonzaga the crown, but also hand the team an unbeaten record for the 2020-2021 season.

The Bulldogs hold a 31-0 record coming into today’s finale and another win would tie them with coach Bob Knights’ Indiana Hoosiers, which were the last NCAA squad to have clinched a title with an undefeated record when they dominated Michigan, 86-68, on March 29, 1976.

Baylor also wants a date with history by winning its first NCAA crown. It will only be the Bears’ second attempt at bagging the championship after losing to the Kentucky Wildcats, 48-52, in the 1948 finals.

Baylor was among the favorites to top the NCAA in 2020, but the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the 2021 season pushed through, the Bears lived up to expectations and are using the called off March Madness season last year as motivation to win it all this time.

CNMI basketball fanatics take their picks, with both teams gunning for their first NCAA championships, will it be the season’s undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs, or the season’s underdog, Baylor Bears?

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Monroyo

“Since I watched the video clip of Jalen Suggs’ dagger that gave Gonzaga the 93-90 win against UCLA in the Final Four, I would go for the Bulldogs. It’s always great to win the championship in style…going unbeaten and getting your first-ever NCAA title.”
— Roselyn Monroyo, Avid basketball fan

Del Rosario

“I’m gonna go for Gonzaga, [Corey] Kispert and [Jalen] Suggs form a dynamic backcourt. [Drew] Timme (19.0 points per game) has been a force throughout the tournament. But the Bears are more than capable as they are the best 3-point shooting team in the country.”
— Norman Del Rosario, IT&E graphic artist

Blanco

“Although I am a Creighton Blue Jays fan, I am rooting for the Zags as the only Jesuit school going into the championship. I predict Zags, 97-93.”
— Rep. Ivan Blanco, CNMI Legislature

Dame

“I am rooting for the Baylor Bears. I’m guessing the final score to be Baylor 75, Gonzaga 72. I’m rooting for Baylor for selfish reasons. One, I would rather Gonzaga not go undefeated and win the title; two, Baylor is a Baptist university and someone who I think highly of who had a big impact on my life received his degree from Baylor. I do not know anyone who went to Gonzaga personally. Also, if the Zags win, it will make it that much more difficult for my favorite team, Kentucky, to recruit.”
— Stephen Dame, Saipan Community, Church senior pastor

Bautista

“As a Michigan alumni and a USC graduate student, it was a bummer to see both my teams go out in the Elite Eight. But for the national championship, I’m going with Baylor just because they’ve been the most consistent team in the tournament. Their average margin of victory during the tournament is 15.2 points, they’re holding teams to 44% shooting, and they played strong in their Final Four game against Houston. Going with the Baylor Bears over the Zags.”
— Kevin Bautista, Governor’s Office press secretary

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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