Sports: After A Series Of Upsets, UCLA Made A Surprising Final Four Run During March Madness
by Jackson Smith
Against all odds, the UCLA Bruins made a shocking March Madness run, led by Head Coach Mick Cronin and stars Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. Despite taking the NCAA by storm, the Bruins missed out on a chance to play for the National Championship after their loss to Gonzaga in heartbreaking fashion.
The Bruins, led by Jaime Jaquez Jr and Johnny Juzang, had their run stopped by #1 seeded Gonzaga in the last seconds of overtime. Gonzaga Guard Jalen Suggs dribbled down most of the court and then made a one footed 3 pointer that banked in as the clock hit zero, crushing UCLA’s dream run.
After hitting the shocking buzzer beater, Suggs, a potential lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, jumped onto the scorer’s table and celebrated as UCLA players stood crushed. In a show of sportsmanship, after celebrating, Suggs hugged Jaquez Jr. and Juzang while they dealt with the shock of their loss.
In a game where everyone ruled them out, the Bruins went and gave one of the best college teams a serious run for their money, being just a miracle shot away from forcing double overtime. It was arguably one of the greatest NCAA March Madness games of all time.
Right before the end of the game, with only two seconds remaining, there was a controversial call by the official. The call was a charging foul, which is what gave Suggs a chance at his game winner. If it had been called a blocking foul, then Juzang would have gone to the free throw line with a chance at a two point lead. At the time it seemed like a good call, but the replay left some serious doubts amongst fans.
UCLA was never supposed to be in the game if the scoring was plentiful, but their big three came up with extraordinary numbers that night. Juzang, Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell came out and competed. Campbell, UCLA’s point guard, went out and scored consistently, while Juzang went out and put up 29 points. Jaquez Jr’s clutch shooting nearly made all of the difference.
UCLA came into college basketball’s biggest tournament as the number 11 seed from the west, but even before that they had to play Michigan State for their spot to even compete. The Bruins got hot after their overtime win against Michigan State. They defeated BYU and Abilene Christian with a case for an underdog team. They overcame number 2 seed Alabama in overtime and scraped by against Michigan.
UCLA was never supposed to go so far in the tournament. If someone had bet they would have gotten 50-1 odds for them to make the Final Four, behind even St. Bonaventure and Georgetown. They were the obvious outliers in the final four with two 1 seeds and a 2 seed compared to their 11 seed, and despite seeming like a hell of an underdog, they almost won the bloody battle against 1 seed Gonzaga and a spot in the National Championship game
After the teams successes, UCLA Head Coach Mick Cronin received a multi-year extension to remain with the school for the foreseeable future. If past is prologue, the Bruins – who went from the first four to the final four against all odds – may very well have the opportunity to win the elusive National Championship under Cronin.