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College basketball is getting a rematch of last season’s most exciting game, with UCLA and Gonzaga linking up for a November showdown in Las Vegas.
According to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, the two elite programs will headline a four-school, multi-team event (MTE) at T-Mobile Arena on Nov. 22 and 23 alongside Bellarmine and Central Michigan.
Gonzaga defeated the Bruins 93-90 in overtime during the 2021 Final Four in Indianapolis as UCLA’s Johnny Juzang dropped a game-high 29 points. Zags big man Drew Timme countered with 25 points as the driving force behind the big win, but the Bulldogs fell to Baylor two nights later in the national championship game.
Jalen Suggs is headed off to the NBA, so he won’t get a chance to follow up his epic buzzer-beater for the win, but there are a number of reasons for college basketball fans to celebrate the announcement.
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We’ll be watching this shot FOREVER. pic.twitter.com/BMftAHdrEi
CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish has the Bulldogs and Bruins as the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the country, respectively, in his preseason top 25. Even without Suggs on the floor, the Zags will have a must-see lineup featuring No. 1 overall recruit Chet Holmgren. Juzang returns for his junior season alongside classmate Jaime Jaquez Jr.
A rematch between UCLA and Gonzaga was highly sought after this offseason with Staples Center in Los Angeles, Chase Center in San Francisco and Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas vying to host the event, per Norlander.
Norlander explained what went on behind the scenes to make it happen:
The strange backstory of how we got here: UCLA vs. Gonzaga only became a possibility due to the schools’ involvements with other MTEs, which fell through in the spring. A rare snafu with contracts enabled the schools (and some others) to walk away from those November 2021 events because the venues pitched, and initially agreed to, wound up not being the venues that were going to be hosting games. Gonzaga was initially lined up to play in the Empire Classic, while UCLA was to participate in the Legends Classic. Due to both of those MTEs no longer being booked at Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden — as initially agreed to — and instead being moved to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, it prompted the teams to seek games elsewhere.
Now, two of the top teams in the country are slated to play for the second time in seven months.