In the midst of a hopefully historic run through the College World Series for UCLA baseball, the Bruins basketball program generated some buzz of its own by releasing the schedule for the 2013-14 season.
For reasons too obvious to regurgitate, the key storyline of the upcoming season will be how UCLA fares in its first year under head coach Steve Alford. And while having a favorable schedule is only part of the equation for success, the Bruins should be optimistic about their draw following Tuesday’s release.
The 31-game slate features 13 non-conference matchups, including a December date with Duke at Madison Square Garden and the second half of a home-and-home with Missouri in Columbia. The Bruins will also welcome two notable opponents—Alabama and Oakland—to Pauley Pavilion next fall. Neither the Crimson Tide nor the Golden Grizzlies made the NCAA Tournament last season, but both have been competitive in recent years and present the biggest threats on UCLA’s home schedule.
The Bruins will also participate in the Las Vegas Invitational early in the season, making it two trips to Sin City for UCLA since the Pac-12 Tournament is also held there now. The late-November tournament consists of two Regional round games played at Pauley, followed by a four-team resolution at Orleans Arena that includes Northwestern, Nevada and the Mizzou Tigers.
By no means is this schedule a murderer’s row of competition, but it does present UCLA with a few chances for nationally-relevant wins. If the Bruins can beat the teams they should and muster up a couple marquee wins out of conference, they’ll be sitting pretty when a very manageable Pac-12 schedule begins in January.
UCLA kicks off its conference slate with three straight home games, one of which is the only regular season meeting with title favorite Arizona in 2013-14. The Bruins were lucky enough to avoid games in Tucson and Tempe next season, a weekend road trip that usually ends poorly for UCLA.
Conference play then continues with five road contests in the next seven games, a critical stretch that includes the daunting mountain road trip and a date with the Oregon Ducks in Eugene. If UCLA can make it through the first week of February above water, a conference crown could be in play for the Bruins.
As has become the custom for UCLA the last few seasons, the final weekend of the regular season will be spent in the Evergreen State. The Washington road trip isn’t the worst in the Pac-12, but it’s never easy to win in Pullman, and Alaska Airlines Arena is a hellish place for visitors. UW and WSU won’t make the trek to LA next year, so this will be the first and last chance for the Bruins against the Dawgs and Cougs.
When it comes down to it, it’s way too early to get overly excited about the UCLA basketball season. We’ve yet to see Alford coach a game, and the Bruins roster is somewhat in flux right now. However, given their schedule and the progress shown in 2012, the Bruins should be considered legitimate contenders to repeat as Pac-12 Champions.
Six months from now we’ll have a much better idea just how serious UCLA’s chances are in 2013-14, but for now, check out the schedule and start dreaming!
- vs. Drexel, Nov. 8
- vs. Oakland, Nov. 12
- vs. Sacramento State, Nov. 18
- LV Invitational Regional, Opponent TBD, Nov. 22
- LV Invitational Regional, Opponent TBD, Nov. 24
- @ LV Invitational, Opponent TBD, Nov. 28
- @ LV Invitational, Opponent TBD, Nov. 29
- vs. UC Santa Barbara, Dec. 3
- @ Missouri, Dec. 7
- vs. Prairie View A&M, Dec. 14
- @ Madison Square Garden, vs. Duke, Dec. 19
- vs. Weber State, Dec. 22
- vs. Alabama, Dec. 28
- vs. Southern Cal, Jan. 4
- vs. Arizona, Jan. 9
- vs. Arizona State, Jan. 11
- @ Colorado, Jan. 16
- @ Utah, Jan. 18
- vs. Stanford, Jan. 23
- vs. California, Jan. 25
- @ Oregon State, Jan. 30
- @ Oregon, Feb. 1
- @ Southern Cal, Feb. 8
- vs. Utah, Feb. 13
- vs. Colorado, Feb. 15
- @ California, Feb. 20
- @ Stanford, Feb. 22
- vs. Oregon, Feb. 26
- vs. Oregon State, Mar. 1
- @ Washington State, Mar. 6
- @ Washington, Mar. 8
- @ Pac-12 Tournament, Las Vegas, Mar. 12-15