Qualifying teams to win everything from the Final Four, from the Zags to the Bruins
What’s the biggest fuss about the 2021 NCAA Championship?
Was Oral Roberts in Ohio State? North Purdue on Purdue? Was UCLA rising from the top four to the Final Four?
Or perhaps it was the ability of the NCAA organizing team to build an environment for 68 competing teams, which has allowed 63 of the 64 games to continue as planned so far. Of the 64 teams that have been eliminated so far, only VCU has gone home without losing. There were so many doubts as to whether the NCAA could pull that off, and so much to be thankful for to have come so far with the minimum of major COVID interruptions.
The NCAA hasn’t been perfect at that. The incident occurred when five officials had to leave the event, largely due to a follow-up of contacts that developed, as there was not enough space for the hotel when referrals arrived – it was not a great moment. But it seems to be a more isolated instance than the trend.
Maybe people are waiting for the NCAA to recognize the extraordinary work they have done in planning and carrying out this tournament to the end so as not to cut football before they cross the line.
That is reasonable. We can hope that the three games in the Final Four will not be without pandemics, as were Elite Eight and Sweet 16. But there should be some hosana if these games come out as planned.
These Final Four teams deserve a chance to decide on the championship court and it looks like the NCAA will provide it.
And these teams are ranked according to their ability to win that title:
Who will win the NCAA Tournament?
Why they will win: When was the last time we saw an offensive basketball team tied to this, this together and that talent at the same time? Zags is only 94th in the international in terms of support rate, but let’s face it: it’s because they can do that. Most of the West Coast conferences were able to be destroyed with individual capability. They didn’t have to be at their best symphonic moment to walk the WCC indirectly. In the games against the top opponents, however, those who established themselves as the main team of the Zags nation and as part of the Final Four, supported 68.6% of the baskets made. Spread over an entire season, this would lead to a significant difference in Division I, according to KenPom.com. They play two great guards at the same time, all American Jalen Suggs and Canadian hero Andrew Nembhard, and both have developed electrical chemistry, each of which will allow them to be distributors and scorers. The great man Drew Timme continues to weaken top college defenders, such as USC’s Evan Mobley, with his clean shoes. Unlike the 1991 UNLV team, which was so confident in the five-man starting lineup for Indianapolis, the Zags receive extra contributions from bank players like striker Anton Watson and guard Aaron Cook. Did we mention Joel Ayayi south? Of course we didn’t. That’s how it works. You forget what you’re following all the other Americans, and it splits your defense with intrusions, throws a free rebound from behind, or opens a 3-point point.
Why not? It’s hard to say whether Gonzaga has won so far and won an average of 24 points in his NCAA Championship games, because American shooter Corey Kispert has had little impact. Creighton limited his influence by offering extra defensive attention; he found numerous open shots against the USC zone, but it was 3 out of 10 in threes. It would not be inappropriate to make this a complete sinking. But it’s hard to say he’s even close when he’s 21 to 21 in the last three games. The simplest entry in this category should say “Baylor”. But that underscores Gonzaga’s challenge against UCLA, which will do everything it can to make the semifinals an ugly game. What Gonzaga has put together is the toughness of the Bruins. If Gonzaga doesn’t do something that is common for champions, he defends the edge. Defending? Zags are much better than they perceive so much; they rank 5th in defensive efficiency. But they are also 262 percent block. Timme, the team leader, has 21 in 30 games. The revolution in analytics may diminish the importance of this factor, however, as the team has focused on deep shots. The last five champions averaged 163rd place; before that the five were ranked 44th.
GONZAGA vs. USC: Probabilities, chances, predictions
Why they can win: They built their reputation on defense, but if you haven’t learned by now that skillful crime is the most important component of an NCAA tournament, you don’t have to pay enough attention. A majority of the last 15 champions have qualified more offensively than defensively, with UConn’s unlikely 2014 winner being one of the few real outliers. Baylor has become a great offensive basketball team, albeit largely dependent on specific 3-point shots. The Bears have the No. 3 attack in Level I, behind Gonzaga and Iowa. They managed to be the best long-range shooting team, and the top five scorers scored at least 40 percent of the three (as long as we round out Macio Teague’s 39.6 percent). More than half of the points come with 3 points. So they will have to shoot well to survive. They are up 37.2 percent in their three major NCAA Championship wins. This led to a 15-in-8 race at Lucas Oil Stadium when Elite Eight beat Arkansas.
Why they won’t: Yes, the offense is worth more But the defense matters. Is Baylor still capable of being a great defensive team? We know the Bears are capable of making a great defense. Villanova was destroyed last weekend in the final 13 minutes of the Sweet 16 game, leaving the Wildcats only 12 points in that span of time. But that’s what happened when Scott Drew reserved for Nova Brandon Slater by throwing dunks against the Bears ’scheme of human struggle, calling them a time limit and aligning them in a game zone. That used to be the basis of Drew’s defense until the same team was one of the best men’s teams in the nation in the 2019-20 season. They haven’t been the same in the second half of this season, even before the three-week COVID breaks the pace. If Baylor has a chance to try to stop Gonzaga, how will they do it?
Why they can win: The Cougars have shown that they can have problems with similarly long and dynamic teams. Like Memphis. Good for the Cougars, then, because they were solely concerned with making sure the Tigers didn’t have the NCAAs, winning twice in the last week of the regular season. There is no such team in the Final Four, although there are better teams. But the measurements make a difference in the tournament. So it can be thought that Cougars ’commitment and ability to defend can lead to two victories at this stage to complete their change schemes and dominate the boards. American Quentin Grimes would need better shooting performance, as he was a fortnight of 10 in 30 on Sweet 16 and Elite Eight victories. Baylor shooters have the ability to tighten the line and punish the bears on the offensive boards. Senior Fabian White has been the revelation of March on the board, particularly offensive. The Cougars are the 2nd team with a sustained rebound percentage and the No. 6 rebound margin.
Why they won’t: His opponent Baylor in the Cougars finals gets a large number, even if he is up against an extraordinary opponent. In the last eight games against the main opponents, the Bears have scored less than 74 points on their own once, in a win that Sweet 16 beat Villanova. They scored an average of 79 points in that span. The point is not that Houston can keep them below that number; on a great day, the Cougars will probably be able to. But even when the Bears slow down, can Houston produce enough pace in an offensive way? Four of the last seven points the Cougars scored against their main opponents were in the 60s, and you won’t find Cincinnati or Tulane in the Final Four. Even if the Cougars managed to break against Baylor men, switching to the field of play would push them back as they did in the 1-3-1 Elite Eight in Oregon State.
BAYLOR Vs. HOUSTON: Probabilities, chances, predictions
Why they can win: One of the things that was spectacular with the Bruins through the Eastern Region games was the decision to force the pace they preferred in the opposition. They were never an extreme fast team, but injuries and exits have deprived the Bruins of the depth and dynamism needed to operate at such a high level. So it has become a completely grinding team, and very good. In the regulations, No. 1 seed Michigan and No. 2 Alabama, typically scoring about 78 points per game, averaged 57 against the Bruins. UCLA is based on the ability of leading goalkeeper Tyger Campbell to manage tempo and players like Jaime Jaquez, Jules Bernard and especially Johnny Juzang make open jumps, even if they don’t have a 3-point variety. The Bruins have become an elite when it comes to executing plans to defend their staff, and they showed that by escaping Alabama’s 3-point line and forcing Marea Tiro to make a poor shot and moving away from Michigan’s right-hander Franz Wagner’s right-hand drive.
Why they won’t: It is very difficult to win in this company without being exceptional in attack. The Bruins get some easy baskets with the way they play, and they’re a good 3-point team. It doesn’t look like they can create enough points to stay with Gonzaga and then stay with Baylor. Historically among so many Final Four, there is a team that has perhaps reached beyond the pinnacle of achievement to reach the Final Four. Think Loyola 2018, Syracuse 2016, VCU 2011. They will give everything they have to win again, perhaps unlikely, to become the 2014 UConn-style champion. But they know and you know, and we all know that getting here was amazing, and it will be a lifelong achievement to say “I played in the Quarterfinals” or “I was on a team in the Quarterfinals”. This UCLA team is the definition of that quality. They lost the top candidates who chose to play among the G-League professionals. They lost the most talented player, Chris Smith, who broke the ACL. They lost the last four games of the regular season. And they are still here.