The UCLA Women’s basketball team begins their journey through the Pac-12 Tournament which begins today. Here is what we can expect and how to watch…
After a tough venture through the Pac-12 portion of the regular season, the UCLA Women’s basketball team are now ready to chart their path through the Pac-12 Tournament. The Bruins unfortunately missed their mark of finishing first in the conference, but are still in good position to make some noise as they prepare for March Madness.
After going 23-6 overall and 14-4 in conference, the Bruins landed the 4-seed in the upcoming conference tourney. That allows them a first round bye and will take on Cal after the beat Washington. With that in mind, we take a look at what the Bruins will need to do and who they might face if they advance through every round of this tournament.
Game 1 – Quarterfinals vs 5 Cal
Cal was a Top 25 team early on, but had a tougher time through conference season than expected. UCLA helped with that in both team’s second Pac-12 game. The Bruins went up to Berkeley and destroyed the Golden Bears, 82-46. Cal could not return the favor at Pauley Pavilion, but made it closer as the Bruins won, 60-52.
Cal is currently on a four-game win streak which includes a win over 2 Stanford, but UCLA seems to have their number right now. Though it is hard to beat a team three times in the same season, the Bruins need to focus on beating “the next opponent”. With Jordin Canada and Monique Billings leading this team, UCLA should be able to get the win and advance,
Game 2 – Semifinals, possibly vs. 1 Oregon
In all honesty, this could be the toughest game in the tournament. Oregon is the only team that beat the Bruins twice this season, shocking the Bruins at Pauley early in the conference schedule and squeaking by the Bruins in an overtime win in Eugene. Sabrina Ionescu, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, has been impressive this season and lead her Ducks to an unexpected Pac-12 regular season championship.
With all that UCLA missed out on, I expect them to have their best game of the season and shut down Oregon. It will not be a blow out, but a battle. The Bruins can lock down players and should expect them to play Oregon extra hard for the win and a chance to play for the tournament championship.
Game 3 – Finals, vs 2 Stanford or 3 Oregon State
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I do not foresee 10 Washington State, 7 USC, 11 Arizona or 6 ASU getting past the quarterfinals, let alone the semifinals. The only team that ideally has a chance to make it this far is Cal and they are not beating UCLA, then there would be no point for this preview.
This will come down to the big dogs as Stanford and Oregon State battle things out in the semifinals. Who comes out on top? I have been impressed with Stanford this season and think they will make it to the final.
This might be a good thing for UCLA, pending their advancement to the final game. The Bruins lost early in the season to the Cardinal in the Bay Area, but the Bruins handled Stanford during their contest in Westwood.
I think UCLA has proven that they are ready to win some hardware, but I am skeptical about them winning it all, especially since the Bruins have lost a few too many big games. This season, head coach Cori Close’s team are 4-4 against Top 25 teams.
Can the Bruins make the 3-day run to a Pac-12 Championship? I believe they can, but they have to play at the top of their game in every single contest. The Pac-12 was tough this season, and UCLA was expected to win the regular season. Not being able to do so might be what they need to finally come out on top.