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INDIANAPOLIS – For all the fuss of madness, for all the surprises, for all the underdog winners and stunner super dogs, the 2021 NCAA men’s tournament will end with a lot of chalk – two No. 1 seeds, one head. of series No. 2 and the black sheep of the group, the seed No. 11 UCLA.
Indicative of this strange COVID-19 year, this tournament has produced a Final Four with three of the event’s top eight seeds, while also presenting a record number of upsets (13 wins by teams seeded five places worse than their opponent). Top-seeded Gonzaga and Baylor join second-seeded Houston and, as mentioned, the upstarts Bruins, who barely made it into this event, even having to win a game in the Top Four.
UCLA’s win over Michigan kept a streak alive. It will be the eighth consecutive men’s Final Four with a ranked number 5 or less. The cumulative 15-seeded total, though historically at the top end of Final Fours, is roughly the last decade average (14.8). In fact, five Final Fours since 2011 have added a greater number.
The Bruins accomplished this for the third time in five years that a double-digit seed advanced to the regional semifinals. They are only the fifth No. 11 seed to advance to this point, joining 1986 LSU, 2006 George Mason, 2011 VCU and 2018 Loyola Chicago.
But what’s so puzzling is that three high seeds reached this point after one of the most chaotic opening weekends of any tournament. UCLA’s win over No. 2 seed Alabama on Sunday night gave the event its 13th surprise as defined by the NCAA. That tied the 2014 and 1985 tournaments at the top of the record books.
How wild had the dance been? For the third time in men’s tournament history, two double-digit seeds advanced to Elite Eight and, for the second time, a No. 15 seed (Oral Roberts) made it to the second weekend. Meanwhile, Oregon State became the second No. 12 seed to advance to the Elite Eight. Due to the surprises of the first weekend, the second weekend featured some unique matchups. An 8v12 seed (Loyola Chicago and Oregon State) and a 3v15 seed (Arkansas and Oral Roberts) met for the second time in their history.
And yet here we head to the Final Four with two seeds and one No. 2. How? Perhaps the answer lies in the aforementioned clashes. For example, Houston became the first team to beat four double-digit seeds to reach the Final Four. His path to this weekend included the 15th, 10th, 11th and 12th seeds. Gonzaga has not faced a team with a seed better than No. 5 (not that it matters, see our Crystal Ball at continuation).
Regardless, the Final Four will produce a long-awaited national champion. Of the quartet, UCLA is the only one with a men’s national title, the last of which came in 1995. Baylor and Gonzaga have each lost once in the men’s national title game (1948 to Kentucky and 2017 to North Carolina, respectively), and Houston has lost twice, arriving in consecutive years (1984 at Georgetown and 1983 at NC State).
SI’s Tuesday Daily Cover: A secret Sunday tradition started by John Stockton links Gonzaga’s past with his present. (By Greg Bishop)
South Carolina made a big statement Tuesday, closing out a strong Texas team in a defensive show of force. (By Emma Baccellieri)
Drew Timme (and his celebrations) ignited Gonzaga early on against USC in another beautiful spectacle from the Zags offense. (By Jeremy Woo)
Tara VanDerveer’s Stanford is in the Final Four after coming back to beat Louisville. (By Madison Coleman)
UCLA edged out Michigan on a tough, defensive-minded affair to complete their run from the First Four to the Final Four. (By Kevin Sweeney)
The best we saw
If you are a Texas fan, this is probably not the best thing you saw. For everyone else, it’s at least the most impressive thing we saw on Tuesday. At the NCAA women’s tournament in San Antonio, South Carolina did not allow Texas a single point in the fourth quarter of their 62-34 Elite Eight victory. That’s right, the Longhorns scored zero points in the fourth quarter. Here’s the score chart, which is jarring.
Gonzaga’s men will win it all. Okay, we’re not taking chances or anything like that, but the Zags have shown in the tournament what we’ve seen all year – a dominant and efficient team on both ends of the court that is crushing everyone. competence. He has won all four of his games by 96 points combined (24 per game), with the closest victory by 16 points.
On the buzzer
An official who called the Gonzaga-USC game collapsed during the first half in a terrifying moment. Bert Smith hit the court hard after landing on his back with no one around him. Play was stopped and he was carried off the court on a stretcher. He was awake and even smiling when officials took him to an off-court area. Smith had felt dizzy during the game. He was in stable condition since Tuesday night and would not need hospitalization.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.