The UCLA basketball non-conference schedule recently came out and needless to say, the Bruins have their work cut out for them… again. That was the plan by head coach Steve Alford when he got to Westwood – schedule games with good teams to not only test the Bruins but have them ready for Pac-12 Conference play and the post-season.
Last year, the Bruins got a bit of reality when they faced teams like Kentucky, North Carolina and Gonzaga (which, funny enough, are three teams they face next year). Though they were tough lessons learned, the Bruins should be a lot more prepared for next seasons’s non-conference schedule.
With a core of Isaac Hamilton, Bryce Alford and Tony Parker, UCLA basketball will be a lot more sound, especially considering the fact they will have a lot more support than last year, which includes actually having a bench. Next season, UCLA will have 11 scholarship players available, the most in the Alford era. Because of that, the Bruins should do well in the non-conference. Hopefully.
UCLA Basketball Non-Conference Schedule
Fri, Nov 13 vs Monmouth
Sun, Nov 15 vs Cal Poly
Thu, Nov 19 vs Pepperdine
At the beginning of last season, UCLA burst onto the scene against their first set of opponents. Though the Bruins scored 95.3 ppg in their first four games, they quickly went up against better teams as the early season progressed. That seems to be the case here. The Bruins should roll over Monmouth to start and then find themselves going up against better competition. Still…
-The Bruins should be 3-0 after their contest with Pepperdine.
Mon, Nov 23-Wed, Nov 25, Maui Invitational
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Participants: Chaminade, Kansas, Indiana, St. Johns, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and UNLV
UCLA will only play three of these teams, but no matter how the bracket is laid out, they will have a tough 3-days in this pre-season tourney (kind of like last year’s Battle 4 Atlantis).
Right now it seems the toughest test would be against Kansas. Games against the other five teams that are not Chaminade seem to be a toss up, though UCLA should be a lot better prepared than last year, our early prediction sees UCLA escaping 2-1.
-UCLA should be 5-1 at this point.
Sun, Nov 29, vs CSUN
This one should be an easy contest for the Bruins.
-UCLA will be 6-1.
Thu, Dec 3 vs Kentucky
Dec 20, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Isaac Hamilton (10) dribbles the ball against Kentucky Wildcats guard Andrew Harrison (5) during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Well this will not be easy. The Final Four team from last season who embarrassed the Bruins in the CBS Sports Classic last year makes their first appearance at Pauley Pavilion. Though Kentucky had seven players declare for the NBA Draft, head coach John Calipari always reloads. Yet with so many pieces missing from their historic team, UCLA could have a chance to upset the mighty Wildcats.
It also helps that this game will be at home for the Bruins and though attendance has not been stellar at Pauley the last few years, expect this to be a packed house… one that will witness UCLA basketball lose by five.
Sun, Dec 6 vs Long Beach State
Same result as CSUN. A “W”.
Sat, Dec 12 at Gonzaga
Aside from the Maui Invitational, this is the first true road game for the Bruins. Seeing as how the Bruins put up a fight and still lost to the Bulldogs at home last year, this might be more of a beating in front of the Spokane crowd… similar to the one they took in the NCAA Tournament. UCLA gets a loss in this one. Hopefully by less than 10.
Tue, Dec 15 vs Louisiana-Lafayette
Sat, Dec 19 vs North Carolina (in Brooklyn, NY)
Nov 27, 2014; Paradise Island, BAHAMAS; UCLA Bruins guard Bryce Alford (20) looks to pass as North Carolina Tar Heels forward J.P. Tokoto (13) defends during the first half at Imperial Arena at Atlantis Resort. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
North Carolina beat UCLA last year, so right off the bat, the Bruins have something to prove. The problem here is that this game is on the other side of the country where there will surely be more Tar Heel fans. As much as it would be great to predict a win, the Bruins play this one close in a loss.
Tues, Dec 22 vs McNeese State
The Bruins get the win to finish the non-conference season.
Mar 23, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins head coach Steve Alford in the first half of a men
UCLA Basketball finishes non-conference 9-4
With Steve Alford having two years of experience under his belt, he should have the Bruins ready for the start of the 2015-16 season (if he does not, that is another article all together). Giving the Bruins the benefit of the doubt, they should be more improved than last season, especially with their depth.
UCLA may take a few games to get their chemistry going, but the talent they have on the team should help them to a decent 9-4 start before they face the Pac-12.