March Madness Update: Elite Eight (Day Two)
Four. Teams. Remaining.
Monday's double-header could be nicknamed "a tale of two parlays" as the opening game was a decisive blowout, only to be followed by a battle to the wire.
Gonzaga's bid for a flawless season continues on as two #1 seeds make up the final four, leaving #2 Houston and #11 UCLA as the odd ones out— one more so than the other.
#1 Gonzaga 85, #6 USC 66
The Bulldogs did it again, opening up a quick lead that would remain in tact for the entirety of the game. Gonzaga has now comfortably, almost effortlessly won all four of their games in the NCAA Tournament.
Gonzaga forward Drew Timme obliterated the usually stout defense of USC's Evan Mobley to the tune of 23 points, 11 of which came in the first six minutes and 10 seconds. Isaiah and Evan Mobley combined for 36 points, but were unable to impact the game for USC.
The Bulldogs spoiled the Trojans' chances of using their historically great defense to guide them to a victory, racing ahead to a 29-12 lead within the first 10 minutes and change of action. Gonzaga is now two wins away from completing the first perfect season since Indiana did it in the 1975-76 season, and is the first team to carry a flawless record into the Final Four since the 2014-15 Kentucky Wildcats did before falling to the Wisconsin Badgers.
#1 Michigan 49, #11 UCLA 51
The Bruins were truly the better team on the evening, holding the advantage for longer than they trailed. Michigan's Franz Wagner had a look from three at the buzzer but was unable to convert, as UCLA became the second team ever and the first since LSU in 1986 to defeat a #1 and #2 seed in the same tournament as a double-digit seed.
Johnny Juzang scorched the Wolverines with 28 points, including 18 of his team's 27 in the first half. The sophomore guard could have gone for more, too, had he not been forced to sit out for a few minutes after re-aggravating an already injured ankle. Juzang scored nearly 55% of his team's points, had over twice as many as the game's second-leading scorers (Michigan's Hunter Dickinson and UCLA's Tyger Campbell each had 11) and put forth one of the most inspiring individual performances in recent tournament history.
Although the Wolverines were limited to 39.2% shooting on field goals and 27.3% on three-point shots, the Bruins actually performed even worse— the deciding factor was the turnover battle, in which Michigan committed 14 to UCLA's 8. The Wolverines also doomed any chances of victory that they may have clung to by missing their final 10 shots. Meanwhile, UCLA has officially traversed its way from a First Four overtime matchup against Michigan State to a Final Four appearance after dethroning #1 Michigan, making them the second play-in team to ever reach this stage.
#1 Baylor vs #2 Houston
#1 Gonzaga vs #11 UCLA