From the First Four to the Final Four. That could be the headline shortly after midnight tonight if UCLA upsets Michigan. The 11-seed Bruins would be just the second team in NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament history to advance to the Final Four after playing in the First Four. But first, the fighting Wolverines of Michigan stand in their way.
Does the Madness Continue?
The year was 2011. The Virginia Commonwealth Rams had shocked the world. Led by recently hired Marquette and former Texas head coach Shaka Smart, VCU went from an 11-seed in a play in game, to a game away from a title. No one had seen it before. No one has seen it since.
Now, the Bruins of the University of California at Los Angeles have a chance to repeat history.
UCLA is the second First Four team to advance to the Elite Eight, joining the 2011 VCU team that reached the Final Four.
— ESPN (@espn) March 29, 2021
One of the nation’s most storied programs, finds itself in an unusual spot. The school that has won more national titles (11) than any other has a chance to be the sixth double-digit seed all-time to make the Final Four.
Led by star sophomore guard Johnny Juzang‘s 15 points per game, UCLA has made an improbable run. Where would they be without a heroics of Juzang and the leadership of point guard Tyger Campbell? Averaging over ver assists and 10 points per game this season, Campbell is the engine that keeps the Bruins’ train chugging.
Despite losing in the first round of the PAC-12 tournament, UCLA has caught fire at the right time. Head Coach Mick Cronin has his team playing at it’s best when it matters most.
If there’s a team that can send this blazing train to halt, it’s the (23-4) Michigan Wolverines.
Team of Destiny?
The year was 1992. The “Fab Five” was the story of sports. The Michigan Wolverines were at the top of the college basketball world. Until they weren’t.
Despite falling short to Duke in the 1992 NCAA title game and again to UNC in 1993, the legacy left by one of the greatest starting fives in college basketball history lives on.
Now, led by one of the key Fab Five members, Juan Howard, Michigan looks to return to the Big Dance’s Big Dance: the Final Four.
The Wolverines have made seven tournament championship appearances. They’ve won just one (1989). Howard now aims to avenge these losses.
If Howard and 1-seed Michigan want to eclipse the success of the Fab Five, they’ll have to rely on star freshman center Hunter Dickinson. The 7 foot 1 big man leads the team in both points (14.2) and rebounds (7.6) per game.
A showdown awaits.
Where to Watch
Tip-off is set for 9:57 p.m. and will be broadcast on CBS. The winner will take on the victor of the USC-Gonzaga matchup tipping off at 7:15 p.m.
The Final Four will take place next weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.