With all the craziness with this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Why should the Final Four be any different? (a rhetorical question, I know) The four teams left standing are #1 seeds Gonzaga and Baylor, #2 seed Houston and the #11 seed UCLA.
A LOOK AT THE TEAMS
Houston 28-3 made it to the Final Four while not playing a single-digit seed. (until the Final Four). Cougars have beaten a No. 15 seed Cleveland State, a No. 10 seed Rutgers, a No. 11 seed Syracuse, and a No. 12 seed Oregon State. This will be the Cougars 22 NCAA tournament and their 6th Final four. They have finished as a runner-up twice, 1983 and 1984(Phi Slam Jamma). They draw Baylor 26-2 as their opponent.
Speaking of #1 seed, Baylor 26-2 This season will mark the team's 13th appearance in the tourney and their 3rd Final Four, the first since 1950. They were runner-up in 1948 to Kentucky. The Bears have seemingly not been challenged as of yet. The closest game was the Elite Eight win over Arkansas 81-72. They have been able to get out in front and maintain a comfortable lead no matter who they have played.
The other #1 seed Gonzaga 29-0. This is the Bulldogs 22 tournament and second Final Four. Gonzaga has been a #1 seed 4 times since 2013, Losing in the 3rd round to the #9 seed Wichita State 76-70.
Losing in the National Championship game in 2017 to Fellow #1 seed North Carolina 71-65.
In 2019 they were eliminated in the Elite Eight by the #9 seed Texas Tech.
If they win, they will be the 8th team to be an undefeated Champion.
Consequently, actually only for programs account for those previous 7 teams have done that;
University of San Fransisco 1956
North Carolina 1957
UCLA 1964, 1967, 1972, 1973
Then we have Cinderella, who was invited to the Ball. The UCLA Bruins, the 11th seed play-in WINNER! Only 1 time has the play-in winner made the Final Four, VCU Coached by Shaka Smart in 2011. They were upended by Butler 70-62 in the Semi-Finals.
UCLA has faced all comers. First beating a Michigan State 86-80. Then going on beating the #6 seed BYU Cougars 73-62. Some people would say they caught a break not having to play #3 seed Texas but getting the #14 Abilene Christian. The Cougars coasted by them 67-47. Then they made their statement win beating the #2 seed Alabama Crimson Tide 88-78. Finally, gritting out a win over the 1 seed Michigan Wolverines to make the final four.
An oddity is that you have two West Coast teams squaring off on one side and two Texas teams facing each other on the opposite side.
SO WHO WILL IT BE?
Will it be the perfect season for Gonzaga, or Will it be an even Dozen for UCLA?
Can Baylor avenge losses from 50+ years ago? What about Houston? Can they channel their inner PSJ and bring home the trophy?
At this point, I would say that Gonzaga is making the point that they are here to play, and history is within their reach.
I think UCLA has a chip on their shoulder having to come from the First Four to be in the Tournament.
Baylor and Houston trying to show WHO IS the top dog in the Lone Star State.
At the risk of going chalk (and I hate doing that, by the way), I would have to give the edge to Gonzaga and Baylor's meeting in the final.
AWWWW, I can't do that! Okay, yes, common wisdom and about every NCAA expert will say Gonzaga Vs. Baylor.
While I agree that IS the most likely scenario, I would not count out an upset by either UCLA OR Houston. The most likely to me would be Houston, even though their road has been relatively easy. The game against Baylor is more than a chance at a trophy. It is for state bragging rights. I think Houston is just a little jealous of the ink Baylor has been getting all year. Both teams are a pretty even statistical match. Baylor has size inside, and Houston has a guard trio averaging 42.3 pts, 13.9 RB, and 8.7 assists per game. It should be a fun game to watch. If Houston can beat Baylor, I think they can end Gonzaga's streak.
So my official pick is Gonzaga over Baylor, but my dark horse from the beginning of the Tourney is Houston.
It should be a fun set of games, and congratulations to whoever wins.
see ya soon