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March Madness 2021: The Final Four

Many of our brackets are still alive with our championship picks despite the upsets, but we finally made it! The Final Four! Houston has finally overcome heartbreaking losses in the tournament over the last few years to show their true talent. Baylor finally has put it all together to make the Final Four after years of just coming up short. UCLA is back after years of up and down basketball. It may not have been the way they intended, but this scrappy bunch is good and on a hot streak. Gonzaga has gotten better and better each year, and here they are again and even better than before. They are on the brink of a historic season and it will be quite remarkable if they can close it out. However, in order for one of these teams to win the title, they need to get through tomorrow. Let’s take a look at the Final Four!

Houston vs. Baylor

Houston has won some difficult games in this tournament, but they have also struggled. They have not shot free throws well in this tournament. They will need to against Baylor. Their guard play is outstanding and they continue to shoot the ball well, almost 45% from the field in the tournament. The issue for the Bears is when they go cold for minutes at a time. It happened against Villanova and it happened against Arkansas. The reason it did not hurt them against Arkansas is that the Hogs had an even worse stretch in the second half. Baylor enters as -5 point favorites and free throws could see them cover that. I would love to see the Cougars pull this out, but unless they hit their free throws and find a way to stop Baylor, I do not think they will. Take the Bears and the cover.

UCLA vs. Gonzaga

Another game that smells of an upset. UCLA is a +14 point underdog, but don’t tell them that. They already knocked off the team many had beating Gonzaga in this very game, Michigan. If they can do that, anything is possible. They did exactly what I said they needed to if they wanted to win: they kept the rebounding margin within 10 (it was exaclty -10), they played good defense, hit their shots, and made their free throws. It also helped that Michigan missed some open looks as well, which was another part of that and always is a part of March Madness: A little bit of luck.

Gonzaga has taken care of business throughout this tournament and despite the upsets from the Bruins, this still does not seem like one I would pick. The Zags are the more talented team and they are on the cusp of history. They want this just as bad, and they are going to prove it. They will need to defend Bruin guard, Johnny Juzang, who will also need the game of his life again to beat Gonzaga. Unfortunately Juzang and the Bruins, I do not see that happening or even being enough. Take the Zags and tke them to cover. It is a large spread, but they have shown the ability to cover those spreads even when it seems they may not.

This will set up a game that was scheduled for earlier in the season, but was unfortunately cancelled. Now we could get it as a championship game, and I am personally excited to see this. History on the line in an undefeated season versus a team that is finally becoming what many thought they were a few years ago, a perennial powerhouse and a championship team. Monday night will be electric no matter what!

Good luck on your bets, enjoy the games, and watch the women’s title game Sunday!

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Follow me on Twitter: @CaseyMoninghoff


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