The No. 11 seed UCLA Bruins were a bubble team that snuck into the NCAA Tournament and had to play in the First Four. They were on a four-game losing streak entering the tournament. And now here they are in the Final Four.
UCLA took down No. 1 seed Michigan 51-49 on Tuesday night in the Elite Eight. Michigan had multiple opportunities to hit threes in the final seconds for the win, but couldn’t get the shots to fall.
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 31, 2021
Ultimately, this game came down to the fact that UCLA has Johnny Juzang and Michigan doesn’t. Juzang scored 28 of UCLA’s 51 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field (and 4-of-5 at the line). That’s even with him missing a few minutes after aggravating an ankle injury that has been bothersome since the final minute of the First Four. It’s been an incredible NCAA Tournament from Juzang, who transferred from Kentucky.
The only player in UCLA history with more points than Johnny Juzang (107) in his first five NCAA Tournament games is … Kareem.
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) March 31, 2021
UCLA has beaten No. 11 seed Michigan State, No. 6 BYU, No. 14 Abilene Christian, No. 2 Alabama, and now the East Region’s No. 1 seed Michigan to reach the Final Four.
The Final Four field is now set, with UCLA joining Gonzaga, Baylor, and Houston. It’s a big surprise to those that felt the Big Ten was the top conference in the country this season, and it’s the first time that there’s been a Final Four featuring no teams from east of the Mississippi River.
First time ever no Final Four teams east of the Mississippi River.
— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) March 31, 2021
Conference representation in the Final Four:
– WCC: 1
– AAC: 1
– Pac-12: 1
– Big 12: 1
– ACC, Big East, Big Ten, SEC, everyone else: 0
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 31, 2021
While UCLA has beaten great teams in Alabama and Michigan to reach the Final Four, they’re about to face a much more difficult challenge vs Gonzaga. The Zags are undefeated and look a level above the rest of the field. Gonzaga blew out another Pac-12 team in No. 6 seed USC on Tuesday night, and open as a massive 14-point favorite vs the Bruins.
But, UCLA is a very talented team that keeps finding ways to pull off upsets, so maybe they have another surprise in store. After all, UCLA does have a history of doing magical things vs Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament.
Gonzaga and UCLA will meet in the Final Four.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 31, 2021
And at the very least, going from the First Four to the Final Four is a remarkable, unforgettable accomplishment.
First Four ➡️ Final Four
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 31, 2021
While UCLA has won a record 11 NCAA Tournament titles, this is their first Final Four appearance since 2008.