Its, March, and with brackets set, so is the ensuing madness. With the official seeds released, it’s time to break down the “whats” and “whos” of college basketball. UCLA was deemed one of four teams to get a fourth seed placement. The three other teams are Louisville, San Diego State, and Michigan State. You can find the full bracket here, but we’ve included a snapshot of UCLA’s region.
It seems likely for the Bruins run to continue into the Sweet Sixteen, having to only beat Tulsa and the winner of VCU v. Stephen F. Austin. UCLA fans aren’t fond of Tulsa in the tourney, particularly because of an old story-line involving a VCU victory over the Ed O’Bannon squad, but Bruin fans need not be worried. Based not only on style of play and talent, but also considering statistical advantages, UCLA is the clear cut favorite to win their opening round game — then again, this is March Madness, and Tulsa is hot at the right time.
Should the Bruin’s and head coach Steve Alford pull off the victory this Friday, they will potentially take on Shaka Smart and VCU. Without doing a full game preview, which is to come later this week, VCU will be the most challenging match-up for the Bruins early on. A well coached and disciplined basketball team is hard enough to beat, but credit VCU with their hard nosed mentality, and you’ve got yourself quite the team. Those same descriptors, being well coached, disciplined, and playing team basketball with passion, apply to UCLA also, and they have the upper-hand with Kyle Anderson, who coach Alford deemed, “The best point guard in the nation”. Should they get this far, the Bruins will have knocked off five straight opponents, including AP number four and number one seed Arizona, along with two wins in the NCAA Tournament.
So the Bruins are hot, happy, and in the Sweet Sixteen likely playing the strongest team in College Basketball: The Florida Gators. The Gators haven’t been good to the Bruins, knocking them off late in many tournament runs. Their defense will likely stifle the high octane Bruins, but Arizona’s defense was supposed to do that too. It seems in the cards for Florida to move on to the Elite Eight, leaving UCLA behind.
A first year head coach leading his team to a PAC-12 Championship and a Sweet Sixteen bid? Not bad for coach Alford’s first run in Westwood, but there is no saying when, or if they’ll get knocked off.