They took a stranger path than usual, but the UCLA Bruins are back in the Final Four after beating the top two teams in their region. UCLA came into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 11 seed and are set to take on the sport’s overall No. 1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs on Saturday, April 3rd at 8:34 p.m. ET from Lucas Oil Stadium.
How UCLA made the 2021 Final Four
UCLA was among the last teams selected to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large squad, and they needed a win in the First Four just to crack the field of 64. They got the best of No. 11 Michigan State in overtime to advance, followed by wins over No. 6 BYU and No. 14 Abilene Christian to get to the Sweet 16. Then, UCLA played a thriller against the No. 2 seed Alabama Crimson Tide in another overtime victory followed by a two-point, grind-it-out win over the No. 1 seed Michigan Wolverines to get to the Final Four.
Mick Cronin is in the Final Four in his second season as UCLA’s head coach and while it wasn’t the best regular season, the Bruins waited for mid-March to play their best basketball of the season. Senior guard Chris Smith was one of the team’s top players, but he tore his ACL on New Year’s Eve, so others needed to step up. Johnny Juzang is leading this team in scoring with 15 points per game, though he was injured in the Elite Eight win over Michigan.
When did UCLA last appear in the Final Four?
UCLA’s last appearance in the Final Four occurred in the 2007-08 season, which was the team’s third consecutive appearance in college basketball’s semifinal round. The Bruins were defeated that season against the No. 3 seed Memphis Tigers coached by John Calipari.
How many times has UCLA appeared in the Final Four?
This will be the 19th time UCLA has appeared in the Final Four in their college basketball history. They have won 11 national championships: 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, and 1995.