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Final Four Preview

(2) Houston vs (1) Baylor

Houston
Kelvin Sampson has set the culture at Houston with toughness across the board as their identity. Now, this toughness leads to really good defense which will be needed against the Baylor perimeter. Furthermore, Houston is one of the best rebounding teams in the country. Therefore, they must capitalize on second chance opportunities and limit Baylor to one shot per possession. Additionally, Quinten Grimes and Marcus Sasser must lead Houston with their ability to make perimeter jumpers. Justin Gorham will be key in controlling the boards and making plays around the rim. The heart of this Houston team is Dejon Jarreau who’s defense on Davion Mitchell will be imperative for Houston’s chances. Further, scoring droughts can be a concern for Houston and will need Tramon Mark and Fabian White to step up off the bench. The key for Houston to win will be consistency on offense and slowing down the backcourt duo of Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell.
Baylor
Baylor’s success starts with the lethal perimeter and the multitude of options to go with. Now, it’s Davion Mitchell leading the way right now for Baylor with his intensity defensively and driving ability blowing by defenders. Additionally, Jared Butler is the lead scoring threat with his shooting and dynamic ability in ball screen situations. Continued, MaCio Teague must be at his best with his size and ability to make key shots throughout. The depth of this goes to Adam Flagler and Matthew Mayer who both have had strong performances in the NCAA tournament and will be needed again. Next, the Baylor frontcourt will need to perform at its best and keep Houston off the boards. Therefore, Flo Thamba and Jonathan Tchamwa-Tchatchoua to be really effective. Along with Mark Vital, being great in his role and providing that needed versatility. If Baylor wins it will be because of its perimeter defense, rebounding, and dynamic guard play.

Best Matchup:

Davion Mitchell vs Dejon Jarreau
This will be one of the toughest guard matchups in the NCAA tournament this season. First off, Dejon Jarreau has been banged up throughout the tournament and will be the key defensively against Davion Mitchell. Also, Dejon Jarreau’s driving ability could lead to foul trouble for Baylor guards which could turn the game. As for Jarreau defensively the key will be to prevent dribble penetration from Davion Mitchell. Furthermore, Davion Mitchell has been playing as well as any player in the NCAA tournament. Continued, his ability to drive and make pull-up jumpers easily has been impressive. Also, his ability to be the guard who can take over games will be needed against the stingy Houston defense. Davion Mitchell’s edge in this game is something that Baylor will need throughout to move to the National Championship.
Prediction: Baylor 65 Houston 59

(11) UCLA vs (1) Gonzaga

UCLA
Mick Cronin has brought grit to UCLA from Cincinnati and it has translated into an unprecedented Final Four run. To start, Johnny Juzang has carried this UCLA offense for stretches with his shot-making ability and his overall efficiency. Continued, the team as a whole will need more offense to have any chance to be in this game with Gonzaga. Therefore, the perimeter shooting of Jules Bernard and David Singleton must be there. Along with, Jaime Jaquez’s ability to get in the lane and make shots in the mid-range must be effective. The ability for UCLA to control the pace of this game will be vital for them to have an opportunity to compete. As well as, having an efficient game from Tyger Campbell in an extremely difficult matchup versus Jalen Suggs and the size difference. As for UCLA’s defense, they must find a way to slow down Drew Timme throughout with Cody Riley having the primary responsibility. UCLA will have a massive take to keep up with the firepower of the Gonzaga offense.
Gonzaga
Gonzaga has been elite at the offensive end and has been very good on the defensive end. Next, their ability to create turnovers allows them to be lethal in transition as they have done against Creighton and USC. This starts with Joel Ayayi and Jalen Suggs with their size and activity on the perimeter. As for their offense, it begins with Drew Timme and his overall effectiveness with being able to dominate facing up or in the post. Also, the perimeter shooting has been a strong aspect with Corey Kispert’s knockdown ability will be needed. Additionally, Joel Ayayi and Andrew Nembhard provide really good consistency in making opens shots and getting to the basket. The tone-setter for this team is Jalen Suggs though with his playmaking ability and overall toughness he must dominate the matchup against Tyger Campbell. Gonzaga is set up to have a great performance against a UCLA team who can struggle to score at times.

Best Matchup:

Johnny Juzang vs Corey Kispert
Juzang and Kispert are the two best shooters in this game and their ability to get hot will be key in this game. Now, the overall efficiency of Johnny Juzang will be needed as the catalyst for UCLA’s offense. As well as, being able to attack perimeter defenders in Joel Ayayi and Corey Kispert. UCLA’s best chance will be Johnny Juzang carrying them having a 30 point plus performance. As for Corey Kispert, when he is able to get it going from the perimeter Gonzaga’s offense is at its peak. Additionally, his versatility offensively is important for him to attack certain matchups and can be great as a trail in transition. Overall, the shooting and scoring of Corey Kispert are going to be something that will spark Gonzaga towards the National Championship game.
Prediction: Gonzaga 74 UCLA 56

Images Courtesy of, Baylor University Athletics, Bleacher Report, NCAA.com

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