The first ticket to the 2021 Men’s Final Four has been punched. Second-seeded Houston is in the Final Four for the first time in nearly 40 years.
Back in the days of Phi Slama Jama in the early 1980s, Houston made three-straight Final Fours from 1982-84, with back-to-back national championship appearances those final two trips.
Since then, the Cougars have made the tournament only seven times, but now, they’re back on its biggest stage. Houston dominated Oregon State, the No. 12 seed in the Midwest, for much of the game, leading by as many as 14 points in the second half.
Even after the Beavers rallied to tie the game at 55 late, the Cougars remained composed enough to control the action down the stretch and pull out a 67-61 victory. They’ll now face the winner of Baylor-Arkansas in a national semifinal on Saturday.
As the clock struck zero in Indianapolis, reactions to Houston’s victory began to pour in.
This column was silly/wild at the time given what the violations were, but to put in perspective how wild end of Kelvin Sampson at Indiana was, look at this. "If he ever coaches again in college, it will be a shock…”
Now, Sampson leads Houston to the Final Four IN Indiana lol pic.twitter.com/vKNA6rr0Yl
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) March 30, 2021
Caleb Mills was the American Preseason Player of the Year. He left Houston halfway through the season, yet the Coogs are going to their first Final Four since 1984. This entire squad has been excellent all season long
— Brian Rauf (@brauf33) March 30, 2021
For the first time since 1984, the University of Houston Cougars will play in the Final Four.
Kelvin Sampson, who last made it this far in 2002 at Oklahoma, has trudged all the way back to the biggest stage in college basketball.
Shoutout to Otis Birdsong.
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) March 30, 2021
10 teams have reached the Final Four playing three double-digit seeds but Houston just became the first to beat four of them. Knocking of 15, 10, 11 and 12 seeds, the Cougars are in their sixth Final Four and first since 1984.
— David Worlock (@DavidWorlock) March 30, 2021
Did Jim Nantz ever believe he'd be in this business long enough to call his alma mater in a Final Four game?
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 30, 2021
Thats a well-earned trip to the Final Four for Houston. Easy path, but whatever. You can only play who gets put in front of you. It's going to be a war whether they end up with Baylor or Arkansas in the Final Four.
— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) March 30, 2021
Kelvin Sampson is two victories away from a NCAA Tournament title ̷f̷o̷r̷ ̷ in Indiana.
— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir) March 30, 2021
Amazing run by Oregon State. Houston beneficiary of an amazing draw. Didn't face a single-digit seed en route to Final Four. Will be a big underdog Saturday.
— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) March 30, 2021
It certainly has been an incredible run for Kelvin Sampson and the Cougars, and it’s not over. This team is capable of winning it all.
By the end of tonight, Houston will know who it faces in the Final Four. Baylor and Arkansas are about to tip off on TBS.