(2) Houston vs (1) Baylor – 5:14pm ET
Baylor (26-2) reaches the Final Four after defeating Arkansas, 81-72. Baylor began the tournament with a 79-55 victory over Hartford, then defeated Wisconsin 76-63. They earned their trip to the Elite Eight with a 62-51 victory over Villanova.
Baylor has won each of their four tournament games by at least nine points, but the margin of victory has trimmed with each successive round, going from 16 in Round 1 down to nine against Arkansas.
Davion Mitchell has led Baylor, averaging 14.0 points, 4.6 assists, and two steals per game during the tournament. The junior guard has been excellent on both ends of court, helping Baylor to be one of the best all-around teams in the country.
Jared Butler led the team in scoring during the regular season, averaging 16.6 ppg, shooting 56.9% from the field. MaCio Teague is second in scoring at 15.6 points per game, hitting 56.1% from the field.
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) April 1, 2021
The Baylor defense was dominating early on, 35th in the country in points allowed, but they have struggled in the last month, moving to 82nd overall. However, the Bears are an outstanding shooting team, hitting 53.7% of shots inside the arc and 40.8% from three-point range.
Baylor has been great at taking advantage of their possessions, turning the ball over only 16.8% of the time. The defense has done a great job of creating turnovers and then transitioning to create points, as they are averaging 21.4 points per game off turnovers.
Houston (3) Opened the tournament by defeating Cleveland State, 87-56. They then narrowly beat Rutgers 63-60 before dominating Syracuse, 62-46. They beat Oregon State 67-61 to reach the Final Four.
The Cougars have been led by Quentin Grimes during the tournament, scoring 14 points or more in all four games. He is averaging 18 points per game, hitting 40.8% of his shots. Marcus Sasser is averaging 13.2 ppg, shooting 48.9%. Justin Gorham has been outstanding on the glass, averaging 8.8 rebounds per contest.
Houston has one of the best offenses in the country, fifth in the nation in scoring. They are shooting 50.9% from the field and are shooting 34.9% from three-point range. This is a perimeter-oriented team. They move the ball around, looking for the open man, and try to tire teams out.
(11) UCLA vs (1) Gonzaga – 8:34pm ET
Gonzaga (30-0) is looking for that undefeated season and are just two games away. They opened up by demolishing Norfolk State, 98-55, then beat Oklahoma, 87-71. The Bulldogs defeated Creighton in Round 3, 83-65, then knocked off USC, 85-66. They have won all four of their contests by at least 16 points.
Corey Kispert is having an outstanding season, averaging 19.0 points per game. He combines with Drew Timme to average better than 37 points per contest, making this a very difficult team to defend.
However, the pressure will be on freshman point guard Jalen Suggs. Suggs averaged 13.9 points and 4.5 assists per game. If he is not rattled, Gonzaga is going to be very difficult to beat.
The Bulldogs are the number one scoring team in college basketball, hitting on 54.9% of their shots. They are hitting 37.1% of three-point attempts and are an outstanding rebounding team as well at 38.0 per game.
UCLA (22-9) has had an amazing road to get to the Final Four. They had to open with a plan game against Michigan State, defeating the Spartans, 86-80. The Bruins then defeated BYU and their opening contest, 73-62, before defeating Abilene Christian, 67-47.
The Bruins then knocked off the top two teams in the bracket, defeating Alabama 88-78 and Michigan 51-49. They are the second team in NCAA history to reach the Final Four after having to play a First Four game.
The road ends 𝓱𝓮𝓻𝓮. pic.twitter.com/ISpqOk3VHi
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) April 1, 2021
The key for UCLA in this contest is to slow things down. They are a methodical team that lets their star, Johnny Juzang, do the damage. He scored 28 against Michigan, as the two teams combined for 100 points.
Jamie Jaquez, Jr. is also a big key for this team, averaging 12.4 points per game. It was his 27-point performance against Michigan State that helped this team reach the tournament, and the two will be the key to the success of UCLA in this game.
UCLA is shooting an impressive 45.8% from the field and 36.9% from three-point range. They are one of the better scoring teams in the country, but in facing a team like Gonzaga, it would not be a surprise to see them play a game similar to what they played against Michigan.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.
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