Two men’s NCAA Tournament Final Four teams were finalized in Monday’s Elite Eight and now two more are joining the group – set to play Saturday with spots in the national championship on the line.
No. 11 seed UCLA pulled off a shocker, upsetting No. 1 seed Michigan 51-49, and became the second team to go from First Four to the Final Four (joining Virginia Commonwealth in 2011).
No. 1 seed Gonzaga looked dominant on Tuesday in hammering Southern California to claim the West Region title. The undefeated ‘Zags join fellow No. 1 seed Baylor and No. 2 seed Houston in the Final Four. Coach Mark Few is back in the Final Four for the second time in his career, after the Bulldogs reached the national championship game in 2017.
A look at the winners and losers from Tuesday’s Elite Eight games:
UCLA. Remember when the Bruins (22-9) trailed Michigan State by 17 points in their First Four game a few days back? Now they’re still dancing in April following a shocking 51-49 upset of No. 1 Michigan. Johnny Juzang carried this quad with 28 points and coach Mick Cronin’s tough-minded group used a smothering defense to stifle the Wolverines and control the pace of the game. UCLA didn’t shoot it particularly well (3-for-13 from three), but it has won all 14 games in which it commits less than 10 turnovers. The Bruins had only eight and forced Michigan into 14.
Gonzaga. The Bulldogs (30-0) put the game away early, building a 19-point halftime lead off the strong play of their three stars. Drew Timme (23 points), Corey Kispert (18 points) and Jalen Suggs (18 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists) were at their best and Southern California didn’t have a chance in Gonzaga’s 83-64 win. Gonzaga was particularly strong on defense in this game early on and won with high-percentage lay-ups from their dynamic passing and cutting offense, while going 7-for-21 from three-point range (33%).
ANALYSIS: Will anyone stop Gonzaga’s offensive juggernaut?
BRACKETS:Men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament results and schedule
SCARY MOMENT:Referee collapses on court during first half of Gonzaga-USC game
Michigan. The Wolverines (23-5) fell victim to UCLA’s slower pace and tempo that’s driven by a smothering defense. Hunter Dickinson (11 points) couldn’t get going enough and no other player on Michigan reached double figures. Franz Wagner was just 1-for-10 from the floor and 0-for-4 from beyond the arc, including a late three-point attempt in the closing seconds. No one on Michigan could stay in front of UCLA’s Juzang, either. Coach Juwan Howard did a great job redefining this team’s identity without second-leading scorer Isaiah Livers. But Tuesday night, Livers’ toughness was missed big time.
Southern California. The Trojans (25-8) had no answer for Gonzaga’s dominant offensive clinic, and as good as the matchup between big men Drew Timme and Evan Mobley was, USC was out-matched in every position, while struggling to defend the ‘Zags’ high-octane scoring attack that relied on constant movement and quick passing for easy lay-ups. Isaiah Mobley led the way for USC with 19 points. The Trojans weren’t exactly bad on offense. They just weren’t on par with the ‘Zags and turned it over enough in the first half for Gonzaga to put the game away early.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.