By Marc Lawrence — This one’s for all the marbles. Gonzaga is in its second national championship game. The first was a 71-65 loss to North Carolina on April 3, 2017. The Bulldogs can become the first undefeated Division I men’s basketball team since Indiana finished 32-0 in the 1975-76 season.
Baylor will play in its second title game. The Bears lost to Kentucky 58-42 in the 1948 men’s national championship.
UCLA pushed Gonzaga to the brink by shooting 57.6 percent from the floor. That was the highest field goal percentage against the Bulldogs this season. The other two teams to shoot 50 percent or better? Kansas (53.2 percent) and Oklahoma (50 percent).
In non-conference games this season Baylor is 13-0 SU and 10-3 ATS, Gonzaga is 14-0 SU and 9-5 ATS.
Both teams have been favored in every contest this season.
Final Jeopardy: Future NFL Hall of fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be host on “Jeopardy!” for two weeks starting tonight. So how did Rodgers for his two-week run as guest host?
Exactly how you would expect the Green Bay Packers quarterback to do it: like he was preparing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game.
Even though Rodgers has watched hundreds of episodes and was a celebrity contestant in 2015, he went back to the film.
Rodgers announced in January that he would be a guest host as the show found ways to replace host Alex Trebek, who died of cancer at age 80 on Nov. 8. Rodgers said the two weeks of episodes were taped over two days in February.
“I watched hours and hours and hours of episodes, Rodgers said. “Luckily Netflix has a few seasons, and I went back to DVR. But I had to watch from a different perspective – from Alex’s perspective. I couldn’t watch it as a fan anymore.
“I took pages and pages and pages of notes. I wrote down every affirmative that he said to any type of clue. I wrote down how he would respond if they didn’t get it right. I wrote down beat points of the show. I wrote down all the different ways he would take it to break. I wrote down the stuff that he said coming out of break. Literally, I studied for this like no other. I wanted to absolutely just crush it.
And it sounds as if Rodgers wowed the “Jeopardy!” executives.
The first day was a practice session, and Rodgers said he could tell right way that “they weren’t ready for me.”
“I know they didn’t expect what I was about to bring, but I was just so prepared,” Rodgers said. “I was so ready. So we get into the first game, the first run-through, there’s 30 questions in a Jeopardy round, and after the first 15 questions, we go to break. They say it in your earpiece, ‘Take it to break.’ So I take it to break, and there was a pause, and I think everyone was like, ‘Whoa, OK, this guy kind of knows what he’s doing here.’
“My whole thing was I felt like the best way to honor Alex’s memory was to be so dialed in and so ready, and that’s the approach I took. So I was ready to rock and roll.”
He teased what he believes will be a “viral moment” from the first episode.
“Just wait until you see the first show and what the returning champion wrote, and then think about me standing at the podium watching – and this will make sense when you see what he wrote – and I’m watching him write this down. For about 25 seconds, I’m watching him write this, and he thinks about the answer and says ‘F— it,’ basically, ‘I’m going to write this answer,’ which, probably one of the viral moments of my two weeks will be his response, which is taking a shot at something that happened to us late in the season.
“But it was unbelievable as the host, I’m watching him and going, ‘I can’t believe I’m watching him write this.’ It was pretty amazing.”
Grinding Out The Profits: It’s Raining 3’s!
Behind its 4 starting guards, Baylor leads the nation in 3-point field goal percentage, landing 41.23% of its attempts this season.
That is more than 50 Division 1-A teams overall field goal percentage this season, including one team (Wichita State 40.47) who played in this year’s Big Dance, including 19 of its 29 games this season.
The bad news for Gonzaga is that is has allowed foes more than 40% from 3-point range 30 times the past four seasons.
The Bulldogs went 23-7 SU and 6-24 ATS in those contests, including 0-4 SUATS versus .890 or greater opponents.
Let the floodgates open.