No. 1 Baylor Beats No. 3 Arkansas to Advance to 1st Men's Final Four Since 1950

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIIMarch 30, 2021

Baylor forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (23) dunks on Arkansas forward Justin Smith (0) during the first half of an Elite 8 game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium, Monday, March 29, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The No. 1 Baylor Bears are bound for the men's Final Four for the first time since 1950 after knocking off No. 3 Arkansas, 81-72, at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday night.

Head coach Scott Drew twice brought teams to the Elite Eight at Baylor, only to be sent home one win away from college basketball's biggest stage. Finally, in his 18th year with the program, he's broken through. Along the way, the Bears became the second team to clinch a berth in the Final Four following a Houston victory earlier on Monday. Baylor is also the first No. 1 seed in the tournament to reach the Final Four.

No. 1 Michigan and No. 1 Gonzaga will attempt to do the same Tuesday.

The Bears will face No. 2 Houston in the national semifinal this Saturday.

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness



Notable Performers

MaCio Teague, G, Baylor Bears: 22 points, 5 rebounds

Jared Butler, G, Baylor Bears: 14 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds

JD Notae, G, Arkansas Razorbacks: 14 points, 1 assist

Jalen Tate, G, Arkansas Razorbacks: 13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists


MaCio Teague Shuts Down Arkansas' Comeback

The first Elite Eight game on Monday night saw Houston hold off a furious comeback bid by Oregon State. Baylor's MaCio Teague did the same nearly by himself.

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Arkansas & Baylor are locked in a battle 👀🔒 @RazorbackMBB @BaylorMBB #MarchMadness https://t.co/XFr5jQvuVK

The senior guard was absolutely electric against the Razorbacks, pouring in at least 22 points for the second time this tournament and knocking down backbreaking shots just when it seemed like Arkansas had swung the momentum its way.

At no point was that more apparent than when Teague drilled a three-pointer to put Baylor up nine with 4:48 to play as the Hogs' run continued. Under a minute later, it was Teague again in the corner knocking down a three to put the Bears up 11.

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MaCio Teague drains two HUGE threes 👌 @BaylorMBB #MarchMadness https://t.co/YaEbMV6KWr

Baylor has no shortage of players who can take over games at any point—and this season has given plenty of examples of that. It was clear early in the first half someone on Baylor would be required to do so again if the Bears were going to reach the Final Four after Davion Mitchell found himself in early foul trouble.

Mitchell has been one of the best shooters and passers in the Bears offense all year. After picking up two fouls in the first half, BU coach Scott Drew didn't hesitate to keep him on the floor. That Mitchell ended the first frame with three fouls was a risk worth taking.

Teague made it so.

In a postseason performance where four Bears scored in double figures, it was who Teague shined brightest, scoring a game-high 22 points with three three-pointers and two blocks for good measure.

Not even an Arkansas comeback attempt could slow him down.

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MARK VITAL. GOODNIGHT. 😳 @BaylorMBB #MarchMadness https://t.co/3NQNLsx7IB


Scott Drew's Long Road to the Final Four

There is no Baylor basketball without Scott Drew.

That's not hyperbole. Monday night in Indianapolis proved it.

When Drew arrived in Waco nearly two decades ago, Dave Bliss had just resigned amid allegations of numerous NCAA violations.

Drew won just eight games in his first season. It would be four more years before the Bears finished over .500 again, but Drew kept molding the program in his image. Recruiting the state of Texas hard, scouring for college transfers and learning how to coach in the Big 12 against the likes of Bill Self, Bob Knight, Lon Kruger and Bob Huggins.

It was an ever-evolving chess match, and Drew was always two moves behind. Until Monday. Until arguably the best team in Baylor history lifted Drew to the Final Four for the first time in his career.

And Drew had to coach his best for 40 minutes to get them there.

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Scott Drew is SOAKED! 💦 #FinalFour @BaylorMBB @BUDREW https://t.co/YRIjKah51j

Against Arkansas and head coach Eric Musselman, the Bears fought off a furious comeback attempt in the second half after watching their 18-point lead cut down to just four points with under eight minutes remaining. Previous Baylor teams had folded in similar moments. Before Monday, Drew had twice fallen in the Elite Eight and on four occasions failed to escape the tournament's opening weekend.

This time Baylor—and Drew—were ready.

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Throw it down, Justin Smith!! https://t.co/TROetgQO4p

Not once did the Bears seem to lose their confidence or composure. Not once did a player seem afraid of the moment. It was all a reflection of Drew.

The coach took over a program as broken as any in NCAA history and got it back to a Final Four. It's as much his moment as anyone else's.


What's Next?

The Final Four begins at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday with both semifinals played back-to-back. Baylor will face No. 2 Houston for a chance to cut down the nets next Monday in Indianapolis.