It doesn't really matter who wins Monday's two Elite Eight games in the NCAA Tournament, a pair of long Final Four droughts will come to an end. Arkansas has the most recent Final Four participation of the four teams in play, which was way back in 1995.
In the night's second game, the No. 3 seed Razorbacks are taking on No. 1 seed Baylor, which hasn't been to the Final Four since 1950. When No. 2 seed Houston and No. 12 seed Oregon State lead things off for the night, they will also be looking to make history for their programs.
Houston last appeared in the Final Four in 1984, and Oregon State last made it in 1963. Though it was reasonable to expect Houston, Baylor and Arkansas to make a deep NCAA Tournament run after all three enjoyed great seasons, Oregon State's presence at this juncture is a shock.
The Beavers had to win the Pac-12 Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament, and they have defeated three consecutive better-seeded opponents to reach this point. We'll see if Oregon State can stay hot and make the Final Four. But regardless of who emerges from Monday's action, it mark a historic occasion.
Two of the best 3-point shooting defenses in the country will clash in the game between Oregon State and Houston. The Beavers are allowing opponents to shoot just 23.1% from beyond the arc in the NCAA Tournament and 30.4% for the season.
Houston's opponents have made 33.3% of their 3-point attempts so far in the NCAA Tournament. But for the season, opponents are making just 29% of their long-range tries against the Cougars, which makes Houston's perimeter defense among the best in the nation.
Given the stifling defensive efforts both squads put forth in Sweet 16 victories on Saturday, we could be headed for a low-scoring stalemate here. Whoever manages to splash home some 3-pointers could secure the momentum in what figures to be a bruising physical affair.
Help for Moody
Arkansas wing Moses Moody leads his team in scoring and will be the most well-regarded freshman in action on Monday. The 6-foot-6 scorer has been a catalyst for this team's breakthrough season and could be a lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
However, the Razorbacks have prided themselves on depth this season, and Moody is receiving a ton of help in the postseason. Indiana transfer Justin Smith led the team in the first and second rounds, and Northern Kentucky transfer Jalen Tate led the way with 22 points against Oral Roberts. Fellow freshman Davonte Davis has also stepped up with big shots in clutch moments.
In short, the monster games from Smith and Tate have kept the Razorbacks from living and dying with offensive output of their star freshman, and that has clearly been a key to their longevity in this tournament.
Jared Butler's shot
Like Arkansas, Baylor boasts plenty more weapons than just its leading scorer. But if the Bears are going to push for a national title, getting Jared Butler's outside shot back on track will be key. The junior guard is just 5-of-28 (17.9%) from 3-point range over the Bears' last four games. He's still managed to impact the game in other ways and is a versatile enough scorer to find other ways to score.
But getting Butler going from beyond the arc feels like a necessity. He shot 45.3% from deep during Baylor's 18-0 start, and even a return to his career 3-point percentage of 37.7% would go a long way toward ensuring that Baylor's offense is humming like it should.
2021 March Madness live stream
Date: Monday, March 29 | Round: Elite Eight | Regions: South, Midwest
Live stream: March Madness Live