Yet here we are.
UCLA may be an underdog story in this year's NCAA Tournament, but the Bruins are no strangers to competing for the national championship. The other semifinalists are entering unchartered waters, though, as all three programs are looking to win their first national title.
Beyond claiming the 2021 men's basketball national championship, here's some further context on what each team would accomplish with two more victories in the tournament.
While Baylor has been among the nation's top programs in recent years, the Bears have had very little success over their long history. A deeper dive into the program's production over the years shows what an incredible job head coach Scott Drew has done in Waco, Texas. The Big 12 outfit has been playing basketball for 115 years and has yet to win a national championship. The Bears haven't even reached the Final Four since 1950 in a tournament that featured just eight schools.
The Bears played in just one NCAA Tournament in the 53 years before Drew took over in 2003. Since then, Baylor has gone to the tournament nine times and made three trips to the Elite Eight. A win this year would also be the Big 12's first national championship since Kansas in 2008.
Gonzaga was once a plucky underdog that grabbed the nation's attention with a Cinderella run in the NCAA Tournament, but it's now a certifiable powerhouse. With their victory over USC in the Elite Eight, the Bulldogs became the first program in NCAA history to register five straight 30-win seasons. Should they add two more to that total, head coach Mark Few would deliver both the first national title in the program's 70-year history and the NCAA's first perfect season since Indiana's 1976 campaign.
The tournament's No. 1 overall seed hasn't just beaten opponents this year, it's utterly dominated all those in the way, with 29 of its 30 wins coming by double-digits. There have been just seven undefeated NCAA champions since 1939, but the Bulldogs are heavy favorites to become the eighth heading into their Final Four contest with UCLA. Gonzaga would also be the first mid-major school to win the championship since UNLV in 1990.
Most people over the age of 35 would immediately associate Houston basketball with the "Phi Slama Jama" era of the early 1980s featuring Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon. That was also the last time the Cougars reached the Final Four, making back-to-back national championship appearances in 1983-84. Houston lost both of those title contests, after which it only made the NCAA Tournament four times from 1984-2017.
The Cougars' fortunes have changed drastically under head coach Kelvin Sampson, who's delivered sustained success since taking over in 2014. But Houston is still seeking the first national championship in the program's 71-year history.
While the other three schools in the Final Four have played basketball for a combined 256 years without winning a national championship, UCLA enters as the winningest program in men's college basketball history with 11 titles. That makes for an odd Cinderella story, but UCLA will be the first No. 11 seed to ever win the national championship should it prevail again this year. The Bruins would also be the first Pac-12 program to claim the title since Arizona in 1997.
UCLA lost its last four games of the season and barely made the tournament field, needing a play-in victory against Michigan State just to reach the full bracket. Head coach Mick Cronin's outfit has caught fire since then, knocking off No. 6 BYU, No. 14 Abilene Christian, No. 2 Alabama, and No. 1 Michigan en route to its first Final Four appearance since 2008. If the Bruins claim their 12th national title, they'll be the first team to go from a play-in game to the championship crown.