So where is UCLA Basketball at this time? Have these Bruins got what to takes to go dancing in the NCAA Tournament? Are the Bruin’s deficiencies prominent enough to keep them from the Big Dance? Find out… right now.
At this point, UCLA still has eight games to play and a run in the Pac-12 Tournament before they can even think about getting a bid in the NCAA Tournament. So as we enter the second half of Pac-12 Conference play, let us see how UCLA has fared so far:
-Neutral Site: 2-1
CBS Sports RPI: 19th
Notable Wins: vs USC (107-73, that’s why!), @Colorado, vs Cal
Notable Losses: @Missouri, vs #8 Duke (at Madison Square Garden), vs #1 Arizona
Games Remaining: vs Colorado, vs Utah, @Cal, @Stanford, vs Oregon, vs Oregon St., @Washington, @Washington St.
Wow. I do not believe it, UCLA might actually have a good basketball team! (Discuss.)
Compared to the rest of the Pac-12, UCLA has the top scoring offense in the conference with 79. 4 points per game. They are 3rd in Free Throw Percentage (.759), 4th in Field Goal Percentage (.449), 2nd in 3-Point Percentage (.391) and 2nd in Assists (15.7).
As for defense, once again comparing the Bruins to the rest of the conference, UCLA is 1st in Steals Per Game (9.9), 1st in Turnover Margin (+4.8), 3rd in Assist/Turnover Ratio (1.41) and (the stat that blew my mind) 5th in Rebounding Margin (+1.5).
The Bruins have a potent offense that could throttle their opponent from the beginning (just like their home win against USC) or can take they can go down to the last second to pull out the win (just like they did at Oregon).
They can be bad, as they were against Missouri and Duke, but also show that they can put up a fight, like the did when they faced Arizona at Pauley Pavilion. And then they can also just completely lose it as they did at Utah and Oregon State.
So the Bruin offense is good, but their defense is unbearably inconsistent. It is great at times, but then can be downright atrocious. The point is, UCLA is doing just well enough to to maintain a certain level of inconsistent dominance. So can that get them into the NCAA Tournament?
Barring any epic meltdowns, UCLA looks to be a damn decent shot for the Tournament. UCLA looks like a lock for their home games against the Mountain schools and the Oregons, but the questionable parts to UCLA’s schedule is whether they can withstand a trip to the Bay Area and Washington schools. If they can go 2-2 on the road, they should be able to maintain a 2 or 3 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Prediction time! From there they go to the conference championship and lose to Arizona. They should be 24-7 with a resume good enough to get them a 4-seed in the the Midwest of the NCAAs. And then you know what? Sweet Sixteen, baby! This discussion is to be continued…