For as chaotic as the first and second weekend of the NCAA Tournament were, the four remaining on the field – outside of the UCLA No.11 seed – were the ones who should be largely in the hunt until the end. Two of the four teams are the No.1 seed (both of which were the top two teams ranked by the committee), and the final team – the No.2 seed Houston – was the region champion. Midwest defaults after the No.1 seeded Illinois dodged in the second round.
Gonzaga, UCLA, Baylor and Houston are in the Final Four. Listen to the latest episode of Eye on College Basketball to prepare for the final weekend of the season.
So today we’re celebrating one of the final checkpoints of the NCAA tournament with a closer look at each of the four still standing. Here’s how they got here, who brought them here, and the odds they’ll make it through. They have been listed below in the order they were ranked by the tournament selection committee.
2021 FINAL FOUR
Saturday April 3
Stade Lucas Oil
|17 h 14||(2) Houston vs. (1) Baylor||CBS (watch live)|
|20h34||(11) UCLA vs. (1) Gonzaga||CBS (watch live)|
(1) Bulldogs de Gonzaga
Western Regional Champion
- Record: 29-0
- Four final appearances: 2017, 2021
- Titres NCAA: Nothing
- NCAA Tournament Path: First round – Def. No. 16 Norfolk State 98-55; Second round – Def. Seed No. 8 Oklahoma 87-71; Sweet 16 – Def. No. 5 Creighton seed 83-65; Elite Eight – Def. No. 6 seed USC 85-66
- Coach: Mark Few has been Gonzaga’s coach since 1999 and made the Bulldogs a West Coast bully. They made the NCAA Tournament every season he was in charge and racked up a 35-22 NCAA Tournament record during that time.
- Key player: Marksmanship Corey Kispert is a finalist player of the year but it’s Drew Timme and his Fu Manchu who get the nod here. Timme has a monstrous NCAA tournament averaging 21.2 points and 7.5 rebounds in four games and comes off a 23-point, five-rebound performance against potential No.1 pick and 7-footer Evan. Mobley.
- Key statistic: Gonzaga has won an NCAA Division I record 27 straight double-digit games.
- Screening report: Behind the deadliest offense in college basketball history, the Zags have skill and depth that few last year’s title contenders can rightly boast of. This charge is led by lottery talent Corey Kispert, a walking flamethrower, and Jalen Suggs, the most competitive first year in college hoops. But they also have size at Timme and Anton Watson with a wealth embarrassment in the backcourt between Joel Ayayi and Andrew Nembhard.
(1) Ours Baylor
Southern regional champion
- Record: 26-2
- Four final appearances: 1948, 1950, 2021
- Titres NCAA: Nothing
- NCAAT Path: First round – Def. Hartford seed No. 16; Second round – Def. No. 9 seeds Wisconsin; Sweet 16 – Def. No. 5 from the Villanova seed; Elite Eight – Def. No. 3 Arkansas seed
- Coach: Scott Drew has been the coach of Baylor since 2003, where he amassed an overall record of 370-215. He’s taken the Bears to nine NCAA tournaments where they’re 15-8 under his watch, which includes three appearances at the Elite Eight.
- Key player: Davion Mitchell is Baylor’s third-highest scorer, but the shooting star that helped his Elite Eight win over Arkansas, prompting his coach to call him a ‘nightmare’ and set the tone in defense . He averages 13.5 points, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game in the NCAA tournament.
- Key statistic: Baylor leads the country this season in 3-point tag team shooting percentage at 41.1%.
- Screening report: Baylor opened their season 17-0 before being forced into a three-week COVID hiatus that threw the team out of their way. He returned with a near-Big 12 loss to last-place conference team Iowa State before suffering his first loss of the season. But the Bears are back in the wagon and stronger than ever in the tournament, with Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and Macio Teague headlining the team’s elite roster. They boast of the No. 3 offense in adjusted effectiveness according to KenPom data and can wow teams with offensive firepower behind their magnificent 3-point shot.
(2) Cougars de Houston
Midwest Regional Champion
- Record: 28-3
- Four final appearances: 1967, 1968, 1982, 1983, 1984, 2021
- Titres NCAA: Nothing
- NCAAT Path: First round – Def. Cleveland State No. 15; Second round – Def. No. 10 Rutgers seeds; Sweet 16 – Def. No. 11 from the Syracuse seed; Elite Eight – Def. No. 12 State of Oregon
- Coach: Kelvin Sampson took over the Houston program in 2014 and had them as a tournament team in year four. He’s 167-63 in seven seasons with three NCAA tournament appearances. In those appearances, the Cougars are 7-3 but had only passed the first weekend once before this season.
- Key player: Former five-star rookie and transfer from Kansas, Quentin Grimes, is the driving force behind Houston’s top 10 attack. Grimes leads the team in scoring this season, averaging 18.0 points per game in the Houston Final Four.
- Key statistic: Houston is the first team in the NCAA tournament to advance to the Final Four by beating only double-digit seeds.
- Screening report: The Cougars – a pun intended – are mutilation teams on the offensive glass. They rank second in offensive rebound rate according to KenPom data for the season. This gave them second chance opportunities and extra looks to help widen the margin for error. Take his game against Oregon State in the Elite Eight, for example: Houston shot a worse percentage from the field and from a distance of 3 points in the game, but he had 15 more shots in total. than the Beavers because he pulled off a massive 19. boards offense that he converted to 19 second chance points. The scoring action goes through Grimes, Marcus Sasser and DeJon Jarreau, but Jarreau, Justin Gorham and Fabian White relentlessly make the difference on the glass.
(11) Bruins de l’UCLA
Eastern Regional Champion
- Record: 22-9
- Four final appearances: 1962, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1980 *, 1995, 2006, 2007, 2008
- Titres NCAA: 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1995
- NCAA Tournament Path: First four – Def. Seed No. 11 Michigan State 86-80 (OT); First round – Def. No. 6 seed BYU 73-62; Second round – Def. No. 14, Abilene Christian seed 67-47; Sweet 16 – Def. No. 2 seed Alabama 88-78 (OT); Elite Eight – Def. No. 1 Michigan seed 51-59.
- Coach: After a 13-season run with Cincinnati, UCLA in 2019 snatched Mick Cronin from the Bearcats to take control of the Bruins. Last season, they finished second in the Pac-12 race before COVID interrupted the playoffs, with a 19-12 record. This season they are 22-9 and in the Final Four for the first time since 2008.
- Key player: Transfer to Kentucky Johnny Juzang is the name to know. UCLA has a ton of fun players who can make big numbers, but it has been the Bruins’ most reliable offensive weapon of all tournaments. On a spanked ankle, he scored 28 points against Michigan and averaged 21.6 points per game during the tournament.
- Key statistic: UCLA is the second team in NCAA tournament history to move from the “First Four” to the Final Four, joining VCU, which did so in 2011.
- Screening report: The purpose of UCLA is to slow you down and train you into a fight, where it can then put you to sleep in a battle with skill. Five different players average at least 10 points per game over the season, so this is not a one-man show with Juzang. He’s cautious though, with Juzang, Jules Bernard, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell making up the bulk of the offensive production.