UCLA Basketball: The Bruins are not getting the respect they deserve this preseason

Head coach Mick Cronin of the UCLA Bruins.(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Head coach Mick Cronin of the UCLA Bruins.(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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UCLA Basketball
Head coach Mick Cronin of the UCLA.(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The argument is not to say that UCLA should be ranked as a top 10 basketball team this preseason or to say that preseason rankings have an influence on how teams will do once the season actually begins, but it does show that they are still not getting the respect they deserve this preseason.

There is an argument to be made that the Bruins do not bring back a bunch of veteran players with much experience but in college basketball, having experienced players doesn’t automatically translate into success on the court. UCLA has an amazing freshman class this season and there is plenty of talent from those freshmen that will be main contributors this season.  There are numerous teams throughout the years who were led by freshmen and did very well in the regular season and even in the NCAA tournament.

Anthony Davis and other freshmen players led Kentucky to a national championship in 2012, Mike Conley Jr. and Greg Oden led Ohio State to a national championship game in 2007, Carmelo Anthony as a true freshman led Syracuse to a national championship, and in 2015 Duke with four true freshmen led by Grayson Allen and Tyus Jones won a national championship. Then there is also the consistency of the basketball program that should give UCLA more credibility going into the season.

Last season, UCLA went 31-6 overall and 16-2 in Pac-12 conference play. In non-conference play they beat then No. 20 ranked Maryland on the road as well as No. 13 ranked Kentucky. In conference play, UCLA swept Washington, Utah, Washington State, and Stanford, and defeated Colorado and Oregon three times. The Bruins made it to the Sweet Sixteen, where they lost to North Carolina by only seven points.

During the 2021-22 season, the Bruins were 27-8 overall and 15-5 in the Pac-12. In non-conference play, they beat No. 4 ranked Villanova and defeated both UNLV and Marquette on the road. UCLA in conference play beat Washington, Cal, Oregon State, and Washington State twice. The Bruins finished in second place in the Pac-12 regular season standing and they made it to the Sweet Sixteen, where they were defeated by Gonzaga by only three points.

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The 2020-21 season, they were 22-10 overall and 13-6 in the Pac-12. In the NCAA tournament that year, UCLA defeated Michigan State in overtime in the First Four game and then they beat No. 6 seed BYU by double digits. In the round of 32, the Bruins defeated Abilene Christian by 20 points and then beat No. 2 seed Alabama in overtime in the Sweet Sixteen. In the Elite Eight, the Bruins defeated No. 1 seed Michigan to advance to the Final Four. In the Final Four, they lost to Gonzaga by three in overtime.

That is three seasons in a row that UCLA under head coach Mick Cronin has made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament and they won the Pac-12 regular season crown last season as well. The argument made by many national writers and news outlets is that the Bruins lost a good amount of players to the NBA and to graduation. However, the Bruins have depth and talent on this year’s roster, and them not being a top-25-ranked team this preseason makes little sense.

Let’s now take a look at the national college basketball preseason rankings for the 2023-2024 season from various publications.