2021 Final Four Preview

2021+Final+Four+Preview

Jerry Humphrey III, theSCORE Co-Editor

After an exciting weekend of basketball in the Elite Elite round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Final 4 is set and it’s set to tip-off Saturday, April 3rd. 

The No. 2 seed Houston Cougars will battle against the No. 1 seed Baylor Bears in the first game and the No.1 Gonzaga Bulldogs look to remain perfect as the matchup with the No. 11 seed UCLA Bruins in the headline game. 

Houston defeated the Pacific Coast Conference (Pac 12) champions Oregon State in the last round to make it to their sixth Final Four. The Texas native Quintin Grimes put up 18 points and has served as the leader of this team. 

This is the first time that the Cougars have been to the Final Four since 1984 where they lost to the  Georgetown Hoyas. That Cougars team was led by future NBA Hall of famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler were given the nickname “Phi Slamma Jamma” because of their dazzling in-game dunks. 

However, the South region champion Baylor Bears have played exceptional basketball all season only losing two regular-season games. The defense the Bears have been playing has allowed them to roll past Villanova and Arkansas in the last two rounds. This is the school’s third trip to the Final Four and their first since 1950. 

The Gonzaga Bulldogs are  an impressive 30-0 on the season and are making their second Final Four appearance since 2017. They are looking to be the first team since the 1975-1976 Indiana Hoosiers to complete the perfect season. Freshman sensation Jalen Suggs and forwards Corey Kispert and Drew Timme lead the way for the Bulldogs.

“We’re wise enough to know these are special times.” Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. “These are great accomplishments, and they need to be celebrated. That’s how we’re approaching it right now. Enjoying the heck out of it.”

In Few’s 22nd season as the Bulldog’s coach, this is his second trip to the Final Four. The Bulldogs lost to North Carolina back in 2017 in the national championship game. Moreover, the Bulldogs are the fan’s favorite to win it all. 34.3 percent of brackets filled out in the ESPN Tournament Challenge picked the Bulldogs to win it all at the start of the tournament.  

Furthermore, standing in Bulldogs’ way from chasing perfection are the UCLA Bruins who were one of the last schools selected to play in the tournament. 

The Bruins defeated Michigan State in the First Four games to qualify for the tournament and after defeating BYU and Abilene Christian by double digits they went on to beat the top two seeds in their last two games Alabama in overtime and Michigan in the Elite Eight. 

The Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang led the Bruins in all scores with 28 points. He had 14 of their first 16 in the opening stretch when Michigan had an early seven-point lead. 

 “It’s incredible, man. Surreal. Something growing up, you just dream about. Juzang said. “It’s beautiful sharing this moment with your brothers and just great, great people.”

This is the 19th Final Four appearance for this historic team, the first since 2008 when future NBA stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love led the charge for the Bruins that year. Also, they are the second 11 seed to reach the Final Four since Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in 2011.

The winners of the Final Four games will meet in the National Championship game that will be played on Monday, April 5th.