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Truly Elite: ’99 Matchup Vaulted UConn, Gonzaga on National Scene

The UConn Huskies and Gonzaga Bulldogs will meet for just the second time in NCAA Tournament history when they match up in the Elite Eight on Saturday.

The last time UConn and Gonzaga met in the postseason was in the 1999 NCAA Tournament, and like this year, it was also the Elite Eight.

Jordan Hawkins #24 of the UConn Huskies celebrates after scoring - Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images/AFP
Jordan Hawkins #24 of the UConn Huskies celebrates after scoring - Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images/AFP

The No. 1-seeded Huskies were able to hold off the upset-minded No. 10 Bulldogs behind Richard Hamilton’s 21 points. UConn hit four free throws in the final minute to put away the Zags 67-62 and advance to the Final Four.

UConn ended up winning their first NCAA championship that year despite March Madness predictions favoring Duke for the title.

Since then, both teams have elevated their statuses in the college basketball world.

Mark Few took over as head coach of Gonzaga the following season, turning the Zags into an offensive powerhouse and perennial tournament team, not missing the postseason in his tenure. This will also be Few and Gonzaga’s fifth Elite Eight appearance.

UConn, meanwhile, went on to win three more national championships following its victory in 1999. It is the only team with at least three title appearances to be undefeated in all four.

Though the schools have only met once in the postseason, UConn and Gonzaga’s second postseason matchup should be no less exciting than the first, with NCAA Basketball lines giving UConn a two-point edge in the matchup.

Both teams are led this year by a pair of big men. Drew Timme leads Gonzaga, averaging 21.5 points, while UConn is led by Adama Sanogo with an average of 17.3 points. They each average 7.5 boards.

Timme and Sanogo have been dominating inside for their respective teams, but Gonzaga and UConn also get outside help in the form of Julian Strawther and Jordan Hawkins, respectively. Both players average in double digits and shoot over 37% from beyond the arc.

 

 

 

Many March Madness expert picks are taking UConn in the win in spite of Gonzaga’s 2-1 regular-season lead in the series. The game tips at 8:49 p.m. ET Saturday, so be sure to make your March Madness picks before then.

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