The Final Four of the 2021 NCAA men's tournament is upon us with Gonzaga, two games away from a perfect season, UCLA, Houston, and Baylor all chasing the title.
Thrown together in detention, they could very well be members of The Breakfast Club. In this instance, these are the four teams left standing in the settling dust from the first two weekends of the 2021 NCAA men's tournament.
Like Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, and the rest of the rag-tag group that joined together, these four teams will gather on Saturday. Unlike the characters in the film, however, these four teams won't be joining forces. Instead, only one will remain cutting down the nets on Monday April 5.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are the perfectionist of the group, looking to become the first team since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers to win a national championship with a perfect record intact. The record is not simply a reflection of an easy schedule. This team is fluid and efficient on offense and in the tourney, has shown a propensity to get things done on defense as well.
As the underdog of the group, the UCLA Bruins have been dancing since the First Four. Beginning with an overtime victory over Michigan State, the Bruins have kept on rolling and, in the process, became only the sixth double-digit seed to reach the Final Four.
The Baylor Bears had been running neck-and-neck with Gonzaga most of the season, piling up wins and getting rowdy along the way. A brief pause due to COVID-19 disrupted the rhythm, with a loss to Kansas ruining their perfect season. Baylor would lose to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 conference tournament but has found their way once again the last four games.
Rounding out the field of four, the Houston Cougars have quietly pieced together an outstanding season. An experienced core has led this group and it's a battle tested one, too. A glance might indicate otherwise, with the Cougars reaching this point having only faced double-digit seeds. But don't let that fool you. Houston can grind it out and will rely on a tenacious defense to hopefully reach the pinnacle.
One of the best things about these four teams is that three of them will have a chance to win their first men's basketball championship. The fourth, UCLA, has 11 previous titles under their belts with an eye on picking up number 12.
Will it be the perfectionist or the underdog? The loud one or the unassuming? Whichever team climbs the podium, it will end with a shining moment etched in time. A fist will be raised in the air and memories made they'll likely never soon forget.
Baylor vs Houston
Gonzaga vs UCLA
- Houston over Baylor
- Gonzaga over UCLA
- Final: Gonzaga over Houston