The UCLA basketball team has been given good, albeit, way-too-early odds to win the 2019 NCAA Tournament, though that might not be as crazy as you think.
The UCLA basketball team finished the 2017-18 season 21-12, 4th in the Pac-12 and with an early exit from the NCAA Tournament in the play-in game.
Still, they have been given 30/1 odds to win it all next season, which is 12th best among the early Future Odds by LasVegasInsider.com. It is a bit unexpected, but not as ridiculous of a pick as you might think.
The Bruins lose a lot this off-seaosn with Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman graduating, but it has also been confirmed that Aaron Holiday will leave early. Add to that the potential jump to the draft by freshman Jaylen Hands and things could be worse next season (though Hands has confirmed that he is “testing the waters”).
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But there is a bright side. If Hands and fellow freshman Kris Wilkes decide to stay, along with Prince Ali, Chris Smith and Alex Olesinski, the Bruins have a core of players that contributed a lot of minutes this past season, so even though they are young, they have expereince.
The Bruins will finally be able to use the talents of Jalen Hill and Cody Riley. Even though they were suspended this past season, they have been practicing with the team and know what is expected.
Now add to the #3 recruiting class in the nation which consists of 5-star C Moses Brown, 4-star PF Shareef O’Neal, SG Jules Bernard, SG David Singleton III, PG Tyger Campbell and 3-star C Kenny Nwuba and you have quite the reloaded roster.
With the players on the roster that will represent UCLA next season, it is very possible for them to not just win the Pac-12, but go deep into the 2019 NCAA Tournament. As we saw this year, talent across Division I basketball seems to be evening out with smaller schools which not only levels the playing field, but brought about a lot of upsets in the 2018 Big Dance. Bruin head coach Steve Alford has never been past the Sweet Sixteen, but with certain things falling into place, there is a chance it could happen next season.
Though it is way-too-early, it is expected that the Bruins will have more success next season, similar to what happened when Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf got to Westwood in 2016. But as it always is, certain things in the off-season can alter the course of the future. Hopefully these alterations for the Bruins are for the better.