Final Four teams meet in Indiana

Jude Papillion, Sports Editor

Having survived the upset-filled gauntlet of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Baylor Bears are set to face the University of Houston Cougars, and the UCLA Bruins are set to face the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Final Four. The Final Four games are being held Saturday and the subsequent championship game is set to be held Monday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

The action begins tips-off at 4:14 p.m. when Houston takes on Baylor. No. 1 seed Baylor stands with a 26-2 record and has won three of its four tournament games by double digits, defeating No. 3 seed University of Arkansas 81-72 in the Elite Eight. No. 2 seed Houston advanced to the Final Four with a 28-3 overall record after defeating No. 12 seed Oregon State University 67-61 to win the Midwest Region title. Both teams had a long drought since their last Final Four appearances with Houston making their first appearance since 1984 and Baylor making their first trip since 1950

Baylor currently leads the country in 3-point shooting, shooting 41.8% collectively, but the Bears are also able to score close to the basket whenever they struggle from deep. Baylor also has three players — Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and Mark Vital — on the Big 12 All-Defensive team. Houston has a high-powered offense led by American Athletic Conference Player of the Year Quentin Grimes who is averaging 18.0 points in the Tournament. Grimes is assisted by Marcus Sasser who is averaging 13.5 points per game in the Tournament, and collectively the two lead the way on defense with 16 combined steals through the Tournament. 

Following the Houston versus Baylor game, the No. 11 seed UCLA Bruins will face the No. 1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs at 7:34 p.m. Gonzaga is entering the Final Four with a perfect 30-0 record on the season, and the Bulldogs have won 27 straight games by double digits. Gonzaga’s offense is the best in the country, with the Bulldogs shooting 54.9% from the field and 63.7% from inside the arc. Gonzaga is also shooting an impressive 37.1% from the 3-point line. The Bruins enter the Final Four after upset wins against the No. 2 seed Alabama Crimson Tide in overtime and against the No. 1 seed Michigan Wolverines. UCLA is a top-fifteen team offensively, leading the Pac-12 in shooting 36.9% from the 3-point line. However, UCLA struggles at creating turnovers, ranking outside of the top 250 in the country, and the Bruins rank 295th nationally in steals. 

The NCAA championship game will be held between the winners of the two Final Four Games on Monday, April 5 at 8 p.m. on CBS.