The Final Four is set and it is becoming clear that everyone is chasing down Gonzaga. After a number of upsets and surprises in earlier rounds, we have a typical Final Four.
We have the typical underdog story in 11th seeded UCLA. And we have the chalk teams, top seeded Gonzaga, another number-one seed in Baylor and a two-seed team in Houston.
Gonzaga has coasted through thus far and will take care of UCLA on Saturday. Baylor and Houston’s matchup on Saturday will be entertaining. The survivor will have to come back two days later, on Monday, to square off against the Zags.
If you are asking why I have Gonzaga in the Finals already, it is because I just don’t see UCLA giving them a game. UCLA has given us a nice story but the Bruins have clearly benefited from an easy draw and have not seen a team like Gonzaga all season.
I like Baylor to advance but Houston will put up a fight. Baylor (26-2) is back in the Final Four for the first time since 1950, while Houston (28-3) is returning to college basketball’s final weekend for the first time since 1984 during the Phi Slama Jama days.
You will often hear that you need excellent guard play to win March Madness. The reason I feel Baylor has a chance to win it all is that it has the nation’s most potent backcourt behind Jared Butler, MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell. The trio averages a combined 46.4 points per game while controlling tempo of games and playing above-average defense. They help Baylor lead the nation in three-point shooting field goal percentage (41%).
The before mentioned facts are why I think the Bears will handle Houston. I also feel if Baylor and Gonzaga played a NBA-type playoff series, it would go seven games. That is why we could have a classic on Monday night.
I am sticking with Gonzaga as my pick. It may finally be the Zags time after a few decades of always falling short in tournament play. The pressure of finishing off a historic undefeated season may be a factor but this Gonzaga team feels different to me.
And it does not hurt that they will have the best player on the court in freshman guard, Jalen Suggs who will be a NBA lottery pick this summer.