The Final Four is set, and the teams – Gonzaga, UCLA, Houston and Baylor – will compete on Saturday and Monday for the 2021 National Championship.
It has been Unique tournamentAnd not just because it happened in the midst of a pandemic, with a few fans in the stands, and completely within Indiana. The major Eastern powers in the sport have been eliminated – Duke and Kentucky didn’t even make up – leaving four teams from western Mississippi to fight for the title.
Zags are the favorites despite not having won a national championship before, while this year’s Underdog is arguably the most outstanding program in college basketball history: UCLA, which entered the tournament as the number 11 seed and faces long odds of advancing in any addition .
Houston plays Baylor at 5:14 PM (EST) on Saturday in the national semi-finals, followed by Gonzaga against UCLA at 8:34 PM (EST). Both matches will be broadcast on CBS. Want to preview the NCAA Final Four action? Here’s how each team can win it all.
Bulldogs are a heavy favorite. With a perfect 30-0 record, they threaten to become the first unbeaten team to win the title since Indiana in 1976. Coach Mark Vieux has had many great teams over two decades leading the program, but this team is his best team.
The outlook for Zags is simple: If they keep doing exactly what they were doing, they’ll have to hang a banner at the end of all of this. Their attack needs to keep shooting well, as they do throughout the season. (The team’s effective field goal percentage, a measure that correctly weighs three indicators as being more valuable than the two, is the best 61 percent nationally.)
For Gonzaga, perhaps the most important player is real starting point keeper Galen Suges. If Suggs is controlling the game, distributing the ball, and not making many turns, then his team is in great shape.
University of California
Bruins are 14-point underdogs against Gonzaga, and they are unlikely to be able to beat the best team in men’s college basketball. But if Mick Cronin’s team is to surprise, it will revolve around two things. First and most obvious, Gonzaga needs an uncharacteristically bad night of shooting. But Bruins will need more than that.
To have a real chance to shock the Zags, Bruins needs to control the pace of the game. Gonzaga is one of the fastest speed teams in the country, with an average of just 14 seconds per possession, according to the respected statistician. Ken Pomeroy. On the other hand, UCLA is one of the slowest teams in the country, taking 19 seconds per acquisition.
If the game becomes a crossroads track with a lot of goals in the transition phase, you will likely walk away from the Bruins quickly. They need to limit the number of total possessions to keep the score unbalanced, and they need to create three open throws from a half court offense. If they get enough of them behind goalkeeper Johnny Guzang and striker Jimmy Jackiz Jr., they can challenge the Gonzaga and have a chance to win in the end. But it won’t be easy.
Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars have their best in time. Houston has not lost since February 18th to Wichita, and UH’s elite defense is key. The team did not allow more than 61 points in any of the four championship matches – a continuation of an excellent defensive effort throughout the year. They are the best team in the country at defending shots from the field (their opponents’ effective field goal rate is low nationally: 43.1 percent), and the Cougars have goalkeepers and big men alike to make scoring difficult from anywhere on the ground.
To beat Baylor and ultimately win the title, the Cougars need to continue this level of performance against a higher level of competition than they have seen so far. They faced nothing higher than the No. 10 seed in all four tournament matches, and all of their opponents were limited offensively.
This is not the case with Baylor, who has shooting prowess and the fitness to score from anywhere. Conclusion: Houston has to be as bold against the Bears as they have been against weaker opponents. If UH can do it, he can win it all.
Bears are good at a lot, but they only have one specific power: shooting. As a team, they achieved 41.1% of their three-pointers, which is the best mark in the country. Accurate long-range shooting has kept Baylor out of trouble in several lackluster matches, and Coach Scott Drew will need his team to maintain fast shots.
Baylor is not designed to win when he doesn’t shoot well, partly because his defense is good but not great. Bears give up a lot of offensive bouncing balls, which can create ample second chances for their opponents. Baylor’s defense generates a lot of points, and would help if they could squeeze Houston goalkeepers Quentin Grimes and Marcus Sasser. But Baylor’s overall equation is simple: Make a lot of long-range shots and defend the glass.
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