By Seth Douglas
It is expected to be an explosive final on Monday, April 5, 2021 as Gonzaga faces Baylor in the final of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA Division 1 college basketball championship 2021. A reenactment of the Gonzaga Jalen Suggs’ buzzer-beater against the Baylor on Saturday, April 3 may be expected.
“With the score tied at 90 and three seconds left in overtime, Suggs – the freshman point guard who is a projected lottery pick in the NBA draft – dribbled nearly the length of the court to set up a running, one-footed 3-pointer that banked in as time expired,” was how Yahoo News described the epic match between Gonzaga, Washington and Baylor, Texas which ended 93-90.
We’re coming to the end of the 2020-2021 men’s college basketball season, and let me tell you, it was a ride to be on. Going from teams having month-long pauses and teams delaying and post-boning games, and some players and programs opting out of the season altogether. With that being said, you can’t ask for better storylines.
We made it, and we can see the light. From top to bottom, all four teams have gone through their adversity and trials to make it to this point. You have Gonzaga coming in as the number one overall seed trying to go undefeated and be the first team to do so since 1975, Bob Knights Indiana Hoosiers team. Having three NBA lottery picks in Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert, and Drew Timme, they are pretty tough, outgoing through the tournament blowing teams out by double digits; what more can you say about them, with Mark Few coaching and being in his first final four you can expect the team to come out with a lot of focus and intensity.
On the other side, you have a battle for Texas going on and a battle of father and son coaching against one another. With Baylor and Houston, Baylor has been a stinger defensive team all year, hence why they made it this far, but they were one of the teams that had a month-long pause due to COVID-19 protocols. The program didn’t let that stop them and their momentum. It was hard, and they went on a run where it didn’t look like the top defensive team in the nation, but that didn’t stop them from winning. Looking at Houston, they were a full five ranked team for a majority of the year, in my opinion, a very underrated team that went under the radar, but was led by a lot of transfers and upper-class men and to mention their head coach, Kelvin Sampson, is coaching in his first final four along with Baylor’s head coach, Scott Drew.
Can’t you have the NCAA basketball tournament without blue blood in it somewhere, right? Well, this year, we missed out on Duke and Kentucky getting their stuff together and making the field. North Carolina and Kansas came, and they went, and the last one standing is the ultimate blue blood school with all the accolades and awards and the most titles in NCAA history, UCLA. This blue blood has been dormant for a couple of years now. They put together a good run in 2018-2020 but haven’t gotten over that hump. But in 2021, we have seen a lot happen. The Bruins went from the first four to the first four out being an 11 seed and playing through some relentless competition. They made it with their head coach, Mick Cronin, this being his first time making it to the final four. Wild enough, it was gifted Johnny Juzang averaging 15.5 points a game with four rebounds to go along with it the transfer that left during the Season’s form. Kentucky went home and helped UCLA make the Final four a true Cinderella story, I’ll say.