July 1, 2022



UH has chance to make history with next year’s Final Four at Houston’s NRG Stadium

2 min read

The University of Houston came up one win shy of making back-to-back appearances in the Final Four, but it’s next year’s team that really has a chance to do something special. With Houston’s NRG Stadium hosting the 2023 Final Four, the Cougars could become just the second team in the past 50 years to play in a Final Four in their home city.

Butler did it in 2010 when the Bulldogs lost a close one to Duke in the title game at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, just six miles from Hinkle Fieldhouse, their home arena. Similarly, the Cougars could play in NRG Stadium, which also is about six miles from the Fertitta Center.

A cursory glance at Houston’s roster would have you thinking another deep run next year is a long shot. After all, the Cougars will lose four starters who were the team’s top four scorers – Fabian White Jr., Kyler Edwards, Taze Moore and Josh Carlton.

However, UH made this year’s run to the Elite Eight with two of their most talented players sidelined by injury. Marcus Sasser, who was the team’s leading scorer before injuring his foot in December, and Tramon Mark, who had an impact as a freshman on the 2021 Final Four team before missing most of this season with a shoulder injury, both will be back to lead the Cougars. They’ll be joined by five-star recruit Jarace Walker, who 247Sports ranks as the ninth-best recruit in the country. Another top 50 national recruit Terrance Arceneaux also is joining the Cougars after winning back-to-back state championships at Beaumont United.

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Plus, they’ll still have Kelvin Sampson on the sideline, who has proven to be a magician when it comes to replacing star players. The 2018 team that got ousted in the second round by a Michigan buzzer-beater was led by Rob Gray, who graduated, but the next year the Cougars still made it to the program’s first Sweet 16 in 35 years. That team lost stars Armoni Brooks, Corey Davis and Galen Robinson but still were 23-8 the next year before the pandemic ended the season. After last year’s trip to the Final Four, Quentin Grimes left as a first-round draft pick, yet the Cougars were beating on the door of the Final Four again the next season.

If they do it again next year, it will be right here at home.

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