UCLA Basketball just announced their non-conference schedule for the upcoming 2015-16 season that includes marquee match-ups against several premier college basketball programs as well as a trip to the Maui Jim Maui Invitational in Hawai’i.
Here is the non-conference schedule (All games at Pauley Pavilion unless noted):
Friday, Nov. 13 vs Monmouth
Sunday, Nov. 15 vs Cal Poly
Thursday, Nov. 19 vs Pepperdine
Monday, Nov. 23 Maui Invitational (Lahaina, Maui)
Tuesday, Nov. 24 Maui Invitational (Lahaina, Maui)
Wednesday, Nov. 25 Maui Invitational (Lahaina, Maui)
Sunday, Nov. 29 vs Cal State Northridge
Thursday, Dec. 3 vs Kentucky
Sunday, Dec. 6 vs Long Beach State
Saturday, Dec. 12 at Gonzaga (Spokane, WA)
Tuesday, Dec. 15 vs Louisiana-Lafayette
Saturday, Dec. 19 vs North Carolina (Barclay’s Center, Brooklyn, NY)
Tuesday, Dec. 22 vs McNeese State
"I’ve maintained all along that we want to upgrade our program’s schedule in hopes of playing tough and exciting marquee games and I’d say we’ve moved even further in that direction this year when you consider the talent in the Maui Invitational field, Kentucky’s first ever game in Pauley Pavilion, facing a veteran Gonzaga team on the road and a cross-country trip to take on North Carolina in Brooklyn."
This is what head UCLA Basketball coach Steve Alford said via UCLABruins.com about the upcoming schedule. Indeed, Alford has definitely improved the quality of opponent the Bruins will face in non-conference and even though it was rough last year, it paid off for the Bruins later in the season as they not only received an NCAA Tournament invitation, but made it to the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row.
Last year, the Bruins got their first taste of what a brutal non-conference schedule looked like. Even though they finished 9-5, none of those wins were against at Top 25 team. That included a horrible 83-44 loss against Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic in Chicago.
This year, the Bruins will be a lot more prepared to take on the trials of a tough non-conference schedule. UCLA has eight home games to help that process out, even though one of those is against Kentucky.
The Bruins should also be better prepared for their trip to Hawai’i learning from the events of last season’s Battle 4 Atlantis where the Bruins went 1-2. This year’s Maui Invitational includes (tournament host) Chaminade, Indiana, Kansas, St. John’s, UNLV, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.
One thing about UCLA basketball this upcoming season is that they will have the most depth since Alford took over. Along with returners Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton, Tony Parker, Thomas Welsh, Noah Allen and Gyorgy Goloman, the Bruins are bringing in four players including 4-star point guard Aaron Holiday and 4-star shooting guard Prince Ali. To top it off, Jonah Bolden will finally join the Bruins after being declared ineligible last season by the NCAA.
This schedule will definitely test the Bruins, but as it looks right now, UCLA could very well go (thinking optimistically) 10-3 to start the season. That is something I am sure any Bruin fan would love to have.
Mar 19, 2015; Louisville, KY, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Bryce Alford (20) celebrates as the UCLA Bruins defeat the Southern Methodist Mustangs 60-59 in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at KFC Yum! Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports