INDIANAPOLIS – UCLA has made more trips to the Final Four than any program but North Carolina.
None of the 19 was more surprising than this one.
After sneaking into the NCAA Tournament off four straight losses, and barely surviving Michigan State in their First Four game, the Bruins took down top-seeded Michigan on Tuesday night to continue a run for the ages.
Johnny Juzang poured in 28 points while playing most of the second half on a hurt ankle, and coach Mick Cronin's bunch of stubborn overachievers survived a set of nail-biting misses by the Wolverines in the final seconds for a 51-49 victory that made the Bruins only the fifth No. 11 seed to reach the national semifinals.
“These guys get all the credit,” said Cronin, who had never been to the Elite Eight in 18 years as a college head coach, much less the Final Four. “Unbelievable heart, toughness. Nobody picked us. Nobody believed in us. That’s how we like it.”
They'll be big underdogs again Saturday night: Overall No. 1 seed Gonzaga is up next.
“We know our next assignment is tough,” Cronin said, “but their resiliency is unbelievable.”
The Wolverines (23-5) missed their final eight shots, including a 3-pointer by Mike Smith with a couple seconds left and another by Franz Wagner at the buzzer, sending the Bruins (22-9) flying off the bench in a wild celebration.