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UCLA Upsets Michigan, Advances to Final Four

No. 11 seed Bruins become second team ever to get to Final Four after starting in First Four preliminary round
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No. 11 seed UCLA, which finished fourth in the Pac-12, advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 2008 by beating No. 1 seed Michigan 51-49 Tuesday night in an NCAA tournament Elite Eight game in Indianapolis.

The Bruins, who will face Gonzaga in the national semifinals on Saturday, become only the second team to reach the Final Four after starting out in the preliminary-round First Four.  The only other team team to do so was VCU in 2011.

UCLA also matches the record for the lowest seed to get to the Final Four, joining four other No. 11 seeds to do so -- LSU (1986), George Mason (2006), VCU (2011), and Loyola Chicago (2018).

The Pac-12 has a team in the Final Four for the first time since 2017 and just the second time since 2008. Pac-12 teams have a 13-4 record in this NCAA tournament.

Johnny Juzang scored 28 points on Tuesday for UCLA (22-9), which hung on as Michigan (23-5) missed its final eight shots of the game to give UCLA a dramatic win.

Johnny Juzang. Photo by Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Juzang. Photo by Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports

The Bruins took the lead for good when Jules Bernard scored to give UCLA a 48-47 lead with 4:05 remaining. The Bruins still held a 50-49 lead in the closing seconds before Michigan's Franz Wagner airballed an open three-point shot with 12 seconds left and Eli Brooks missed a close-range follow shot with eight seconds remaining.

Juzang made one of two free throws with 6.3 seconds remaining to make it a two-point lead, and Wolverines guard Mike Smith missed an open three-point shot with one second to go.  Michigan got the ball out of bounds under its own basket with five-tenths of a second left, but Wagner missed a rushed three-pointer.

So UCLA, which lost its final four games before the NCAA tournament, heads into the Final Four for the 18th time, hoping for its 12th national title.

No team seeded 11th or lower has reached the national championship game, and no team that played a preliminary-round game has played in the finals.

A big first half by Johnny Juzang helped UCLA take a 27-23 lead at halftime.  Juzang was 8-for-10 from the field, including 2-for-2 on three-pointers, to collect 18 points in the first half. The rest of the Bruins were just 3-for-19 from the field and scored only nine points.

Brandon Johns Jr. had eight first-half points for the Wolverines, who held an early 13-6 lead before Juzang caught fire.

The Bruins led by as many as nine points early in the second half, but the Wolverines caught up and the final 13 minutes were tight.

The Bruins shot only 38.9 percent from the field, but Michigan was just 39.2 percent. The Wolverines were only 6-for-11 from the foul line.


Cover photo of UCLA celebration by Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports


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