It’s been an unusual NCAA Tournament, with the entire thing taking place in Indiana. But it has also been a fantastic NCAA Tournament, and now we’re down to the Final Four.
There was the single COVID-19 incident that resulted in VCU having to forfeit its first-round game with Oregon, but otherwise, we made it to the Final Four without any other hiccups and with a lot of great basketball.
Baylor Bears (-5.0) vs. Houston Cougars
As crazy as the Midwest Region got, with No. 1 Illinois falling to Loyola Chicago, No. 11 Syracuse marching to the Sweet 16, and No. 12 Oregon State going all the way to the Elite Eight, one of the pre-tournament favorites in Houston advanced to the Final Four.
The road to Houston’s first Final Four since 1984 and the days of Phi Slama Jama and Akeem Olajuwon (Hakeem since 1991) has not been terribly challenging. They are the first Final Four team to ever advance that far by only playing double-digit seeds.
That changes when they face the top seed in the South, Baylor, which is making its first Final Four appearance since 1950, when the tournament had just eight teams.
Baylor was knocked off its stride when it was forced to miss three weeks during the season because of COVID-19 protocols. But the top three-point shooting team in the country looks like its old 17-0 self and rolls into the final weekend with 26 wins, the second-most in the country.
Houston dominates the offensive glass in this one and keeps it close, but ultimately the Bears are too much. Baylor wins; Houston covers.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (-13.5) vs. UCLA Bruins
From the First Four to the Final Four has been the road for the UCLA Bruins. Unlike the other three teams in Indianapolis this weekend, the Bruins are regulars in the Final Four, with this being their 19th appearance.
UCLA likes to slow the pace and bore you into a loss, which is exactly how they knocked off the East’s top seed, Michigan, to get here and set up the improbable matchup with the nation’s No. 1 team Gonzaga.
The Bulldogs have been a team of destiny all season long. Not only have they not lost a single game all year, but they have won their last 27 games by double digits.
Not surprisingly, that is an NCAA Division I record. Here in the NCAA Tournament, Gonzaga’s wins have been by 43, 16, 18, and 19.
It’s hard to imagine a program in search of its first-ever national championship being this big of a favorite against a program with 11 national championships, but there aren’t many teams like this year’s Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Bulldogs win big, cover the spread, and roll into Monday’s final game.
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