Syracuse vs Houston
In a highly anticipated Sweet Sixteen matchup, coach Jim Boeheim and his 11 seeded Syracuse Orange men looked to pull-off their third upset of the tournament against the 2nd seeded Houston Cougars. Syracuse went into this game coming off a record-book performance led by 3-point specialist Buddy Boeheim, the coach’s son. He racked up 25 points himself, while the team as a whole shot an exceptional 60% from the field, and 45% from 3. The Oranges looked to keep this same shooting consistency they had throughout the tournament, however that did not go as planned. A dominant performance from the field and on the offensive glass from Houston gave them the edge on this one in their 62-48 victory over the Oranges. The Cougars had the game in their control from start to finish, especially on the defensive end of the floor as they held the Oranges to just 21% shooting from 3. With an impressive 10 rebounds, 13 point performance from Justin Gorgham was exactly the type of efficiency the Cougars were looking for heading into their elite eight matchup against Baylor.
UCLA vs Gonzaga
As the 11 seed UCLA Bruins looked to extend their March Madness miracle run to the championship game, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, a college basketball powerhouse, stood in their way. Even with UCLA coming in as a heavy underdog against the undefeated Bulldogs, they held their own in the overtime thriller. With the battle coming down to the very last second, UCLA’s Johnny Juzang scored a put back jump shot to tie the game at 90. However, in the game that seemed to be destined for double overtime, All-American Corey Kispert inbounded the ball to freshman phenomenon Jalen Suggs, who launched the game winning buzzer-beating three pointer from just inside half court. While UCLA’s improbable final four run will not be forgotten, Suggs and the Bulldogs made sure that they wouldn’t be a part of the Bruin’s Cinderella Story.
Houston vs Baylor
The Baylor Bears dominated the Final Four as they knocked off the Houston Cougars 78-59. The game should have already been played, but a cancellation due to COVID-19 had stopped the two teams from matching up in the regular season. The three ball had all the answers for Baylor as the shots from the arc continued to fall all game long. Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler were playing at an NBA level and seemed unstoppable in the teams 52% shooting performance, tearing apart Houston's defense. The two combined for 29 points and 15 assists. With performances like this it wasn’t a surprise to see Baylor cutting down the nets this year, for their first National Championship.
Like all great things, the 2021 March Madness tournament came to an end on Monday with Gonzaga's only loss coming from its final opponent, the Baylor Bears. In the NCAA Tournament championship game, the previously unbeaten Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the season, losing 86-70 to No. 1 seed Baylor. Baylor rose to the top in style, jumping out to a 9-0 lead early on. Less than ten minutes into the contest, the score was 29-10. It was Gonzaga's biggest deficit of the season. Yet despite their early difficulties, Gonzaga made some runs, cutting the lead to ten points at halftime and nine in the second half. Baylor, on the other hand, had a better share of scoring runs, thanks to 10 made 3-pointers and a strong offensive rebounding performance that resulted in 18 more shot attempts than Gonzaga. Baylor's lead, which dwindled to single digits in the first half, exploded to as many as 20 points in the second half as it drained the life out of Gonzaga. With only seconds remaining on the clock, Baylor held possession up by 16 to seal their first NCAA National Championship title after their last appearance 73 years prior! Congratulations to both teams and Gonzaga for sticking around until the end and Baylor for completing one of the most successful rebuilding seasons of NCAA history.