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2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament Viewing Guide: Elite Eight Tuesday

Don’t turn to CBS looking for tonight’s doubleheader. It’s on TBS instead. Saturday will feature a Southwest Conference reunion with Houston and Baylor advancing to one national semifinal. Might we get an all-Pac-12 matchup in the other? Or will top seeds Gonzaga and Michigan conspire to prevent it?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Creighton at Gonzaga
Can Gonzaga remain perfect AND advance to the 2021 Final Four? USC will provide a stiff test tonight.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Historical matchup information is courtesy of College Basketball Reference’s Matchup Finder. Note that this data only goes back to the 1949-50 season.

West 6. USC Trojans (25-7, 15-5 Pac-12 At-Large) vs.
1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (29-0, 15-0 WCC Automatic)

7:15 p.m. on TBS (March Madness Live game link) at Lucas Oil Stadium’s Equality Court (Kevin Harlan and Dan Bonner with Dana Jacobson reporting)

Of the four teams playing in Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Trojans have the least illustrious NCAA Tournament history. This is USC’s first Elite Eight appearance since 2001. With a win tonight the Trojans will reach their first Final Four since 1954. (And while the program reached the round of eight in 1940, that was also the number of qualifiers.) Gonzaga, on the other hand, has become one of the nation’s most decorated programs over the past two decades despite the lack of a national title on their resume. This is the Bulldogs’ second consecutive Elite Eight appearance and fourth since 2015. However, the 2017 NCAA Tournament marks the Zags’ lone Final Four appearance.

Surprisingly, USC and Gonzaga haven’t played in almost 30 years—the Trojans swept a two-game series in December 1991 (Spokane) and 1992 (Los Angeles).

East 11. UCLA Bruins (21-9, 13-6 Pac-12 At-Large) vs.
1. Michigan Wolverines (23-4, 14-3 Big Ten At-Large)

9:57 p.m. on TBS (March Madness Live game link) at Lucas Oil Stadium’s Unity Court (Brian Anderson and Jim Jackson with Allie LaForce reporting)

While both the Bruins and Wolverines have been to many Final Fours, their respective head coaches have not, so either Juwan Howard or Mick Cronin will earn a career milestone tonight. As for the programs themselves, UCLA hasn’t made it to the season’s final weekend since making three straight trips from 2006 to 2008. Michigan has advanced to two in the intervening years—in 2013 and 2018 under John Beilein.

Unlike the West Regional finalists, Michigan and UCLA have met 10 times since 2002 with the series a 5-5 split, including the teams’ home-and-home series in December 2016 (UCLA won at Pauley) and 2017 (Michigan returned the favor at Crisler). The pair also split their last two NCAA Tournament meetings, with the Bruins winning an 85-82 decision in the 1998 second round—five years after an 86-84 Wolverine win at the same stage.