Wow! Just Wow! What an incredible spectacle the Gonzaga Bulldogs and UCLA served up in their NCAA Tournament Final Four matchup.
It was a game that will go down as an all-time classic, packed with drama, excitement and an overtime ending that was THE most dramatic moment of the March Madness tournament so far.
However, at the end of it, it was the Bulldogs that moved on to the Championship game where they will face the Baylor Bears. The game between the teams that had been the two top ranked colleges in the country for the vast majority of the season.
It is the final that most fans across the country predicted and one that most bookmakers did not want to happen.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) April 4, 2021
Suggs Last Gasp Buzzer Beater
This wasn’t just the best game of the tournament, this was the toughest game unbeaten Gonzaga have had all season by a long, long way. UCLA played superbly and were never out of the game.
There were 19 lead changes during the match which shows how close the game was throughout.
Johnny Juzang, who has been the star man for UCLA in this tournament, top scored with 29 points and he had UCLA’s best chance to win it, when at the end of normal time, he had a chance to hit a score to win it at the death.
However, he was called for a charging penalty which meant that with the score tied at 81-81, the game would head into overtime.
Juzang was at the heart of the last second drama in overtime. With Gonzaga leading, Juzang got hold of the ball and scored to pull the Bruins level in the game with just 3.3 seconds left on the clock.
Mark Few, the Zags coach, decided not to call a time out and after Corey Kispert grabbed the ball, he threw it to Jalen Suggs who caught it on the run.
With time running out Suggs dribbled into the UCLA half and launched a shot from well beyond the 3-point marker.
It arched perfectly, clipping the backboard before catching all net as time expired. The Zags had remained perfect to win 93-90, but by the slimmest of margins and in the most dramatic of fashions.
As Gonzaga’s wild celebrations began after the buzzer, UCLA can look back on a stunning run through the tournament, which began in the First Four and a season which, despite losing ten games, saw them to the brink of the Championship game.
Steve Kerr on last night’s Gonzaga-UCLA classic: “It was one of the best basketball games I’ve ever seen. Best college game I can remember seeing in a long, long time. I was just blown away by the execution from both teams — the focus, the intensity, it was beautiful to watch.”
— Ben Ross (@BenRossTweets) April 4, 2021
Cougars Toothless As Bears Make Easy Progress
Awaiting the Zags in the Championship game tonight are the Baylor Bears, who easily despatched the Houston Cougars 78-59 in the opening Final Four game.
The game was effectively won in the first half when the Bears opened up a massive 25-point lead. This allowed Baylor to rest and rotate a number of players in the game, allowing some of their replacements a little time on court.
The Cougars defense struggled to contain a Baylor offense in the first half that looked back on form after some criticism in their previous games and once that lead had opened up the Bears eased themselves over the line.
The final, which takes place later today sees the two teams that were both unbeaten for a long stretch of the season and which occupied the top two spots in the National Rankings for that time, lock horns.
It is the game most fans wanted to see and which most sportsbooks, given how heavily Gonzaga and Baylor have been backed, wanted to avoid.
DraftKings Sportsbook have the Zags as the -4.5 favourites to win the game. They are -210 on the moneyline, with Baylor +163.
Clearly, how close UCLA drove the Zags has given bookmakers hope that the Bears could spring an upset win.
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How Will The Bulldogs V Bears Game Go?
This is the game many people predicted as the final from their bracket games and bets and as such, it is a game that many people have formed an opinion of.
The Bears were unbeaten for a long part of the season, but two defeats in the latter stages of the season saw them eventually drop to third in the national rankings. Despite that, there are a number of people who feel they are a better team than the Zags.
For the Zags, this is a chance to become the eight team in the tournament history to win the Championship and go the entire season unbeaten. The last being the Indiana Hoosiers in 1976. They have pretty much been top of the college rankings all season and not come close to losing that position.
Until the UCLA game, that is.
However, if the Zags can overcome that then they can beat the Bears in what should be an exciting final. Although how it can top the drama of the semifinals, I am not quite sure!