UPDATED: The last game of the year is rarely the best game. Especially considering the game we got to see on Saturday, when Gonzaga eked out a win over an insanely hot UCLA team on a 37 footer from freshman Jalen Suggs. Considering how much we’ve been anticipating this matchup, there’s no way it can live up to the hype, right?
Men’s Championship Game - Monday
Gonzaga (1) vs Baylor, starting around 8pm on CBS
Baylor showed on Saturday they’re not to be forgotten when it comes to the conversation around the best team. However the Zags are still the team to beat. Per KenPom they’re 6 points better in Adjusted Efficiency and it took an incredible shooting night from UCLA just to give them a chance for a regular night from the Zags.
Consider this stat: UCLA scored 52 points from 2-point field goals. Gonzaga scored 60 points doing the same. But the Bruins only scored 18 points on dunks and layups. Which means they scored THIRTY FOUR points on 2 point jump shots. Meanwhile Gonzaga scored 50 points on dunks and layups. Their offense was humming, and they were making UCLA take tough shots. UCLA was just making them.
As much fun as Baylor is and can be, I still think Gonzaga is the better team so I’m taking them to finally capture this national title.
The last weekend in college basketball is rarely the best one, but it’s still a good one. The Final Four is something Missouri fans haven’t quite had a rooting interest in, but it’s still a spectacle and fun if you’re a fan of the sport.
After a tournament with a myriad of upsets, we’ve arrived at the Final Four with 2 number one seeds and one number two seed. Only the UCLA Bruins, a First Four eleven seed is the outlier. But otherwise the Final Four is pretty chalky.
After last nights wild finishes in the Women’s Final Four (Arizona in a huge upset over UConn and Stanford over South Carolina), we probably needed a reminder that anything remains possible and all four teams in the Final Four are pretty danged good basketball teams. So even though we feel like we know what might happen today, you never know.
Final Four GAMES - Saturday
Baylor (1) vs Houston (2) — 4:14 pm, CBS
Scott Drew’s Baylor squad is a hot shooting team, Kelvin Sampson’s Houston team grabs offensive rebounds at an absurd rate, both teams play tough defense. While Baylor has run through Hartford (195), Wisconsin (13), Villanova (12), and Arkansas (19) to get to where they are, Houston has had a slightly easier path with Cleveland State (170), Rutgers (38), Syracuse (41), and Oregon State (43). While Baylor has had the tougher slate, they’ve moved through it a little easier... and for that reason I think Baylor will move on.
Gonzaga (1) vs UCLA (11) — 7:34 pm, CBS
Gonzaga continues to be a death machine, in the Elite 8 they ran through an incredibly hot USC team full of pros like they were a 16 seed. Meanwhile UCLA is on a run buoyed by a few guys doing just enough to get them through. They needed a furious comeback and overtime in the first four game against Michigan State, overtime against Alabama, and an elite shooting performance from Johnny Juzang to get past Michigan. There’s literally no reason to think UCLA can pull off this upset... so I’m not going to pick them. Gonzaga is the pick.
Women’s Championship Game - Sunday
Stanford (1) vs Arizona (3) — 5:00 pm, ESPN
I mentioned above this wasn’t the Final we expected. South Carolina has been great all year long, and they played a terrific game against Stanford, an oft-overlooked elite program on the West Coach. But the Pac-12 continued it’s improbably dominance over College Basketball when Stanford beat SC, and Arizona upset UConn. The Cardinal and the Wildcats have faced each other twice already this year... and it didn’t go well for Arizona. Stanford won in Tucson 81-54, and 62-48 at home in Palo Alto. With the margin so wide, it’s hard to see Stanford not being confident going in, I’ll take Tara VanDerveer and Stanford to capture their first National title since 1992!