We’ve reached the Final Four and while three of the teams were mostly expected to be there, we still have one surprise. No. 11 UCLA has crashed the party, going from nearly losing in the First Four to making it all the way to the Final Four. Is this where their journey ends? We take a closer look at each match-up, plus their betting odds:
Gonzaga vs. UCLA
Bovada Odds: Gonzaga -14.5
Gonzaga has been the best offense throughout the entire tournament (and season) and it doesn’t seem like they are planning on slowing down anytime soon. They have averaged 92.0 points per game with 55 percent shooting accuracy from the field.
Gonzaga's trio of Drew Timme, Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs have been critical to the team’s success and is a huge reason that their offense is so dangerous. Not to mention the fact that they have a few role players that have helped them get over the hump with Joel Ayayi and Andrew Nembhard. This is one deep team.
As for UCLA, they were down by five with a minute to go in the First Four but now they’ve somehow lasted until the Final Four. They play with a level of toughness that isn’t matched by many other teams as preferring to slow down the pace and lock down on the defensive end. They will need a big game out of Johnny Juzang, who was able to drop 28 points in their big upset win over Michigan in the Elite Eight.
The issue for UCLA in this matchup is containing and slowing down the Gonzaga trio as not many teams have been able to do so. Scoring in the 50’s won’t cut it for the Bruins this time. Gonzaga hasn’t scored less than 83 in the tournament.
Baylor vs. Houston
SportsBetting Odds: Baylor -5
Baylor-Houston is a No. 1-No. 2 matchup, so this shouldn’t be too surprising.
Baylor has a ridiculously stacked backcourt trio of Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague, which combine for a whopping 46.4 points per game this year. Not only have they been the main catalyst in leading the nation in three-point shooting with 41 percent, but they all have been solid enough on defense to make an impact on that side of the court.
It will be tough for Baylor to get the same easy offensive looks like they are used to because the strength of this Houston team is their defensive ability. They are probably the best defensive team left in the tournament right now as they have stifled their opponents to just 55.7 points per game in March Madness. Houston will no doubt want to shut down the guards on Baylor and make them rely on role players in order to get their clean looks.
Houston always finds a way to keep the momentum with them – even if they aren’t hitting their jump shots. Guys like Quentin Grimes and DeJon Jarreau have been stellar defensively as well and should go head-to-head against two Baylor guards. Not many teams have scored well against Houston but then again, Houston hasn’t faced anyone close to Baylor offensively this season so it should make for a great test for either team.