UCLA Athletics: Three Bruins Teams Begin NCAA Action This Weekend


Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

While the No. 4 UCLA women’s golf team teed off at NCAA Regionals in Auburn, Ala. today, three other Bruins squads will kick off NCAA play over the next two days. With national title No. 109 still proving quite elusive, we can only hope this season of championships ends the drought for UCLA.

The men’s and women’s tennis teams will both play host in the Round of 64 at the Los Angeles Tennis Center this weekend, while the women’s water polo team is in Boston for the first round of the NCAA Tournament tomorrow. Here’s some more information about each of these UCLA teams, and what to expect from them this postseason.

Men’s Tennis

Ranked No. 1 in the country, the UCLA men’s tennis team is considered a heavy favorite to make it through the regionals of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. But before the Bruins worry about the team finals in Champaign, Ill., they need to get through two matches on their home court at LATC.

The first foe unfortunate enough to draw UCLA (24-1) is the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Despite an overall record of 13-10, the Kangaroos are making their third consecutive trip to the tourney thanks to a 4-0 sweep of IUPUI in the Summit League Championships. But given the fact that UMKC doesn’t have a single “quality” win this year, the Roos’ chances of taking down the Bruins are slim to none. The match will begin at 1 PM PST tomorrow afternoon.

After UCLA takes care of business in the first round, the winner of Drake vs. Texas Christian will be waiting in the second round. The Bulldogs (24-3) have a significantly better record than the Horned Frogs (18-9), but TCU did play a much more difficult schedule, so the match is up for grabs. Whichever team comes out on top will have to face the Bruins with a spot in the Round of 16 on the line. The full tournament bracket for men’s tennis can be seen here.

Women’s Tennis

Unlike the UCLA men, the women’s tennis team will need to pull a few upsets to win a national title this year. The No. 7 Bruins (16-5) begin NCAA play at 12 PM PST on Saturday at LATC against Army (22-6). The Black Knights made their way into the field of 64 by winning the Patriot League Tournament. Army was the top seed vying for the automatic bid, which they secured with wins over Colgate and rival Navy. However, the Black Knights have yet to beat a ranked opponent this season, while the Bruins have four wins against the current Top 25.

As such, UCLA should be favored to advance to the second round, where the Bruins would face the winner of Oklahoma State vs. Long Beach State. The Cowgirls (15-8) may have an edge over the 49ers (21-3) despite an inferior record because they played in the extremely competitive Big 12, which currently has five ranked teams. But either way, UCLA will need to come out focused in the second round, as OSU and LBSU are both capable of winning big matches.

If the Bruins can get through the first weekend of the tournament, they’ll punch a ticket to Champaign for the NCAA Team Championships next week. Once there, the sky is the limit for UCLA. Click here for the complete women’s tennis bracket.

Women’s Water Polo

The No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo team will try to bounce back from a third-place finish in the MPSF Tourney in the 2013 NCAA Championships. The Bruins (26-6) will begin the tourney at 12:30 PST tomorrow versus No. 10 Princeton (26-5) from Harvard’s Blodgett Pool in Boston. The Tigers earned an automatic berth by knocking off Michigan in the CWPA Eastern division finals, making it their second straight trip to the NCAAs.

Though Princeton will be the underdog against UCLA, the Tigers do have the advantage of playing much closer to home, and in a pool that they’re familiar with. If the Bruins are caught looking ahead to a second-round rematch with No. 2 Stanford, they could be heading home early. But assuming they do get past Princeton, the Bruins would have to get over the hump versus the Cardinal. UCLA is 0-3 against Stanford this season, including an 11-7 loss in the MPSF semifinals two weeks ago.

If the Bruins somehow get to Sunday’s title match, they’d likely have to face crosstown rival Southern Cal. The No. 1 Trojans boast a 2-0 record over UCLA this season, but wouldn’t the best revenge be for a national title? Of course it would—and we’ll be wishing for it. Here’s the complete bracket for the women’s water polo championship.