NCAA Tournament 2021: Updated Men's Bracket and Matchups to Watch in Final Four

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2021

NCAA Tournament 2021: Updated Men's Bracket and Matchups to Watch in Final Four

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Late Tuesday night, the men's NCAA tournament Final Four was set in dramatic fashion as No. 11 UCLA bounced No. 1 Michigan 51-49.

    It's the first time a First Four team has reached the Final Four since VCU did it 10 years ago, and if UCLA goes all the way, it would be one of the best Cinderella stories in March Madness lore. 

    Undefeated Gonzaga, as expected, defeated USC 85-66 to lock up its place in the Final Four. Though UCLA has a bit of giant slayer in it, we can expect either No. 1 Baylor or No. 2 Houston will meet No. 1 Gonzaga in the national championship game. 

    Baylor locked up its Final Four spot when it defeated Arkansas 81-72 on Monday, while Houston rather squeaked past No. 12 Oregon State 67-61.

    Let's take a closer look at these two matchups, which will take place Saturday on CBS, as well as the updated tournament bracket. 

Updated Bracket

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Now that the Final Four has been set, you can view the full, updated bracket here

    Is yours busted yet?

    According to ESPN, the most popular team picked to win it all among Tournament Challenge players was Gonzaga at 35 percent. The next favorite champion was the Illinois Fighting Illini (15.4 percent), followed by the Baylor Bears (10.2 percent) and Michigan Wolverines (7.8 percent). 

    Two of the most popular Final Four picks are now out of the tournament altogether. 

    Per, No. 12 Georgetown, not UCLA, was this year's most popular Cinderella pick. Just over 14 percent of Bracket Challenge Game players picked Georgetown to advance to at least the Sweet 16, as opposed to just over 7 percent of players picking UCLA.   

    If you did happen to go galaxy brain and not only include No. 11 UCLA in your Final Four but tab the Bruins to win it all, don't get too excited just yet; the lowest seed to win the tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985 was No. 8 Villanova (in 1985).

No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 2 Houston

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    When Baylor defeated Arkansas 81-72 Monday night, the Bears secured their first Final Four trip since 1950. MaCio Teague dropped 22 points en route to the victory. 

    Meanwhile, No. 2 Houston returns to the Final Four for the first time since 1984. To get here, the Cougars survived matchups against No. 10 Rutgers, No. 11 Syracuse, No. 12 Oregon State and No. 15 Cleveland State.

    However, Houston also suffered losses this season to two programs, Tulsa and East Carolina, that fell below 100 on the KenPom rankings, and had some trouble closing the tournament games against Rutgers and Oregon State. 

    Baylor, on the other hand, made the majority of brackets' Final Fours. And despite struggling early against Villanova and having to come back against Arkansas, the Bears have very much lived up to their No. 1 billing. 

    Baylor versus Gonzaga was a championship game many saw coming...but before that can happen, Houston would like to have a word.

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 11 UCLA

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The NCAA (and CBS, for that matter) has to be delighted about this outcome in the East-West regions. March Madness is special, of course, because so many viewers have a vested interest even if they don't care about the programs themselves, but in addition to having bracket implications, this matchup is just a classic David vs. Goliath. 

    As we established earlier, Gonzaga was far and away the most popular pick to win it all, and with the other three teams of the Final Four being set, it's safe to say that's still the case. 

    The Bruins are just the fifth No. 11 seed to ever make the Final Four. Not to take anything away from UCLA, however, the Michigan Wolverines really let the game get away from them Tuesday night, missing their final eight shots, including two three-pointers in the final seconds. 

    Gonzaga likely won't make as many mistakes. UCLA will have to again look to Johnny Juzang, who scored a game-high 28 points Tuesday, to keep them around. 

    Gonzaga hasn't even had to rely on star point guard Jalen Suggs much through the tournament so far. He's a weapon the Bulldogs have in their back pocket that could make life very difficult for the underdog Bruins. UCLA has been scrappy and is riding all the momentum, but it doesn't have an answer for Suggs.