Both Gonzaga Bulldogs and the UCLA Bruins won their Elite Eight matches, setting up a clash on Saturday night in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four. The Bulldogs beat the USC Trojans while UCLA eliminated the Michigan Wolverines, making a colossal surprise.
With a 30-0 record, the Bulldogs are only a third team to reach the Final Four without a loss since the NCAA expanded the tournament to 64 teams. The previous two didn’t win the championship. Mark Few’s boys are not only after a title here, but a history as well, and they will try to repeat Indiana Hoosiers’ 1976 run, once they won the trophy without a single loss.
Last night’s 85-66 win suggests that the Zags have every right of hoping to achieve that, as they pretty much demolished the No.6 rival who didn’t stand a chance in this clash.
The Bulldogs were up 36-15 with six minutes to go until the break, convincingly taking care of the rivals who were giving their best, but without any results.
Isaiah Mobley had a team-high for the Trojans, 19 points, and Evan Mobley dropped 17. Drew Peterson finished the contest with 13.
“It was a little surprising,” Trojans’ head coach Andy Enfield said regarding the final result, “because we’d been playing great basketball.”
It seems that their “great” is not enough for the Zags, who were hurting USC from all sorts of positions. Drew Timme led the way with 23 points and five boards, while Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs had 18 each. Kispert added 8 rebounds, and Suggs was two dimes short of a triple-double because he recorded 10 rebounds.
“We didn’t let the ball get too sticky. We kept moving, flashing into the high post. It was a lot for them to deal with — good cuts off the baseline, vertical cuts off the wings,” said Suggs following the game.
In the game that followed this one, the fans had a chance to see drama in the end. Michigan Wolverines were down one point, and their Franz Wagner missed an open three-point attempt, with the ball not touching the rim at all. But what is even more shocking is that his teammate Eli Brooks caught the ball and couldn’t score from under the basket.
“We got the look, got the shot that we wanted,” Michigan’s coach Juwan Howard said. “Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do with 0.5 seconds, but that shot was a nice little heave. Unfortunately, it just didn’t go in. Before that, we got an open look and just fell short.”
In the end, the final result was 51-49 for the Bruins, who had unreal Johhny Juzang. The shooting guard was unstoppable, scoring 28 points, all of them in tough situations. Juzang was playing alone against the Wolverines in the first half, contributing with two-thirds of Bruins’ 27 points in that sequence.
“Unreal, man. Unreal. I love every single one of these guys. It’s incredible, man. Surreal. Surreal. Something growing up, you just dream about,” he said.
The only one who was double-digit among the Bruins besides him was Tyger Campbell with 11 buckets. Hunter Dickinson had the same number of points, and was the lone double-digit scorer among the Wolverines.
Bruins will face the Zags on Saturday night at the Final Four. Gonzaga is a massive favorite, but as seen on numerous occasions in the past, that doesn’t have to mean anything at this stage of the tournament.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.