Michael Conroy/Associated Press
The Final Four of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament field is set after UCLA defeated Michigan 51-49 to earn the last national semifinal berth on Tuesday.
The Bruins will play Gonzaga, who took down USC 85-66 earlier in the evening. The winner will play Baylor or Houston in the first-ever men’s semifinal featuring a pair of Texas schools.
Here’s a look at the schedule, odds and some picks against the spread before rundowns on how each of the teams got this far in March.
Schedule, Odds and Predictions Against the Spread
No. 1 Baylor (-5) over No. 2 Houston: Saturday at 5:14 p.m. ET
No. 1 Gonzaga (-13.5) over No. 11 UCLA: Saturday at 8:34 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
How They Got Here
Gonzaga outscored its four tournament opponents by 24 points en route to the Final Four, beating Norfolk State, Oklahoma, Creighton and USC. The Bulldogs were never seriously challenged in any of those contests, leading by double digits in each of them by halftime.
The Bulldogs beat Norfolk State 98-55 after shooting 51.9 percent from three-point range. The Oklahoma matchup in the round of 32 was all about Drew Timme, who scored a game-high 30 points and posted 13 rebounds.
Timme led four Bulldogs in double figures with 22 points in a 83-65 win over Creighton in the Sweet 16, with Andrew Nembhard contributing 17 points and eight assists.
Against USC in the Elite Eight, future NBA draft lottery pick Jalen Suggs fell two assists shy of a triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight dimes.
Gonzaga will now look to finish as the first undefeated men’s Division I hoops team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.
It’s been a roller-coaster ride for the Houston Cougars, who are back in the Final Four for the first time since 1984, when Phi Slama Jama reigned the collegiate courts.
Two comfortable wins were followed by two nail-biting victories. Six Cougars scored 10 or more against Cleveland State in an 87-56 first-round victory.
Houston was lucky to get out of the second round, though, as No. 10 Rutgers led the Cougars for nearly the entire second half. The Scarlet Knights led 58-49 with under five minutes remaining, but Houston ended the game on a 13-2 run. A Tramon Mark three-point play and a pair of Marcus Sasser free throws proved to be the difference.
The Cougars held Syracuse to 28.0 percent shooting in a 62-46 win to move to the Elite Eight, where No. 12 Oregon State awaited. The Cougars led by as many as 17 in a game the Beavers never led, but Oregon State tied the matchup at 55 following a Gianni Hunt three-pointer.
Houston responded with a 9-1 run off a Quentin Grimes three-pointer and six free throws to put the game away, though.
The Bears outscored their four tournament opponents by 14.25 points, winning each game by nine or more.
The only game where the Bears may have sweat a bit occurred during the Sweet 16, where No. 5 Villanova led 30-23 at the half. But it was all Baylor down the stretch, as it closed the game on a 21-10 run to beat the Wildcats.
Otherwise, Baylor hasn’t been seriously threatened. A 79-55 win over Hartford opened the tournament before the Bears took a 13-point halftime lead against Wisconsin before a 76-63 win.
Arkansas never led Baylor in a matchup of old Southwest Conference rivals during the Elite Eight. MaCio Teague’s 22 points led the Bears into the Final Four following the 81-72 win.
The Bruins are now the second team to start in the First Four and reach the Final Four after defeating Michigan in the Elite Eight on Tuesday.
UCLA joined the legendary 2011 VCU squad after beating Michigan State in overtime 86-80 despite losing by 10 at the half in the First Four. Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Johnny Juzang combined for 50 points.
The Bruins then had little trouble with BYU (73-62) and a Cinderella team in Abilene Christian (88-68) before a rock fight with Michigan in the Elite Eight.
Once there, it was all Juzang, who scored 28 on 11-of-19 shooting, with 18 first-half points.
However, outside of Juzang and Tyger Campbell, UCLA scored just 12 points on 5-of-25 shooting, giving Michigan an opening.
The Wolverines had the ball down 51-49 with six seconds left, but three-pointers from Mike Smith and then Franz Wagner did not connect. UCLA is now going to the Final Four for the first time since 2008 in search of its 12th national title.
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