March 8, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins head coach Ben Howland watches game action against the Arizona Wildcats during the second round of the 2012 Pac 12 Tournament in the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

UCLA Basketball: Previewing the Non-Conference Schedule

UCLA basketball opens the season in just two short weeks at home against Indiana State.  That day signifies the start of a new era and all UCLA fans and players are anxiously awaiting the opening of New Pauley Pavilion.

The first USA Today Coaches Poll was released November 7th and conservatively slotted the Bruins as the 13th best team in the country.  While this is already a major upgrade from last year, though meaningless right now, UCLA fans expect to be much better than the 13th ranked team in the country.  Expectations are sky high and pressure is on Ben Howland to win the Pac 12, reach the Final Four, and ultimately hand another banner in Westwood.

As we look at UCLA’s non-conference schedule, there is a lot to be excited about.  Every year, UCLA and other power schools play a slate of games against clearly inferior opponents to pad their win totals.  UCLA has a solid amount of these, but they also need non-conference resume-building wins early in the year.  The potential for those is great, as well.

Let’s take a look at the schedule game-by-game:

November 9- Indiana State @ UCLA:  Pauley Pavilion opens and the building will be rocking!  Early reports from people within the UCLA Central Ticket Office is that the opening of Pauley may resemble a June Lakers game.  Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities.  Indiana State finished 17-15 last season.

November 13- UC Irvine @ UCLA:   The fellow University of California members went 12-19 last season and lost to a weak UCLA team by 29 points.  2012-2013 doesn’t look much better for the Anteaters.

November 15- James Madison @ UCLA: James Madison also struggled last season and finished 12-19.  The cross country trip won’t be much fun for the Duke’s.

November 19- UCLA vs Georgetown:  Now this is where it gets fun.  Georgetown enters the season unranked, but they had a strong season in 2012, making it to the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament.  This will be the Bruins first major test on the season.

November 20- TBD: If UCLA beats Georgetown, they are likely to meet Indiana in the finals of the Legends Classic.  Indiana is the preseason #1 team in the nation and are led by All-American Cody Zeller.

(Ed. Note: Spence is currently in a Facebook contest for a chance to win a trip to New York for the November 19th game against Georgetown and the November 20th championship of the Legends Classic.  To vote:  Click here, scroll to Spencer Stueve and “like” the video.)

November 25- Cal Poly at UCLA: The Bruins should certainly beat Cal Poly, even if they have a bit of a letdown after the big tournament in New York.  Cal Poly went 18-15 last season.

November 28- CS Northridge at UCLA:  Another early season game where the talent disparity should be too much for the opponent.  CS Northridge went 7-19 last season and only won one conference game.

December 1- San Diego St. at UCLA: When it comes to selection Sunday in March, the Bruins will be kicking themselves if they lose to SDSU.  The Aztecs are ranked 20th and will be looking for a big, early season win on the road.  The Bruins need to come to play or they will walk out of Pauley with an L.

December 8- UCLA at Texas:  Just one week after the big matchup at home against SDSU, the Bruins face their toughest road task of the non-conference season.  Texas is ranked 24th, but the Bruins will have a whole week to prepare and should be ready for the Longhorns.

December 15- Prairie View A&M at UCLA: They finished 14-18 in 2011-2012 and with UCLA having another full week to prepare, it could get ugly.

December 18- Long Beach St. at UCLA: Long Beach State finished last season 23-9, made the NCAA tournament, and are looking to build on that this year.  With shorter preperation, the Bruins need to be careful.

December 22- Fresno State at UCLA:  Fresno State struggled last season and finished 13-20.

December 28- Missouri at UCLA: Missouri had a fantastic season in 2011-2012, finishing the season 30-5.  As great as the regular season was for the Tigers, the postseason was just as bad.  In a shocking upset, they lost to Norfolk State in the 1st round of the NCAA tournament.  They will certainly be hungry to bounce back this season.  They are ranked 17th.


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