How many of you had UCLA as this year’s Cinderella team? Be honest because I know I sure didn’t.
What a run though. This is a Bruins squad that was one of the last four teams to get into the Tournament. As one of the First Four, they even had the play-in game against Michigan State thrown in their way.
Yet they still prevailed.
Game after game, UCLA has proven people wrong. The latest two victims were No. 2 seed Alabama and, most recently, top-seed Michigan. The 51-49 Elite Eight win against the Wolverines might be the team’s most impressive win yet.
The game came down to a couple of last-second missed three-point attempts from Michigan. And with the win, the Bruins move on to the Final Four for the first time since 2008. An 11-seed going from being one of the last four in to one of the last four left.
Once again, this is the sort of storyline that makes the NCAA Tournament so great. This is why it’s called March Madness.
So what’s next for UCLA? Well, they’ll be rewarded with a showdown against undefeated Gonzaga. This is a 30-0 squad that seems to be getting better as things go on. The average margin of victory in the Tournament for the Bulldogs has been 24 points. No team has come within 15 yet.
If that is where it ends for the Bruins, it’ll still be a magical, unexpected season. They’re 14-point dogs, according to the FanDuel Sportsbook. But at this point, I’m not willing to count them out. I’ve done that way too much since the beginning of March. If Johnny Juzang (28 points) stays hot, anything is possible for this team.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.