NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT – SOUTH REGIONAL, SECOND ROUND:
#4 UCLA Bruins (26-8) vs #13 Tulsa Golden Hurricane (21-12)
DAY/DATE: Friday, March 21
TIME: 6:57 p.m. PT
PLACE: Viejas Arena, San Diego, CA, on the campus of San Diego State University
TV: truTV (Channel 246 for Direct TV subsribers)
ALL-TIME SERIES: UCLA leads, 3-2
LAST TIME THEY MET: Tulsa beat UCLA, 77-76, in 1996 preseason NIT
LEADING SCORER, UCLA: Jordan Adams, 17.2 points per game
LEADING REBOUNDER, UCLA: Kyle Anderson, 8.8 rebounds per game
LEADING SCORER, Tulsa: James Woodard, 15.7 points per game
LEADING REBOUNDER, Tulsa: Woodard, 5.8 rebounds per game
Selection Sunday has come and gone.
The bubble has burst for schools like SMU and California.
All the potential buzzer-beater, David slaying Goliath upsets have been set up.
And all the brackets are ready for the millions who take part in office pools to play Nostradamus and predict who will be taking home the crystal ball trophy and cutting down the nets on April 7h.
As I understand it, UCLA’s first round game against this Tulsa Golden Hurricane team, winners of the Conference USA Tournament, needs previewing…
College basketball fans, as well as those who were fans of the Los Angeles Clippers from their dark days of the late 80s – yes, we very much know that those dark days lasted well into this century – will well remember Tulsa’s coach.
Danny Manning, who as the John Wooden Award winner (basketball’s version of the Heisman Trophy) led Kansas to the national championship in 1988 and was subsequently drafted by the Clippers, is in his second year as head of the Golden Hurricane.
From all standpoints, he has done a great job as he led his team to a four-way tie for first in Conference USA, then knocked off Louisiana Tech 69-60 to capture his conference tourney.
All after losing to a nine-win TCU team earlier in the season; but what’s more pertinent, and possibly a scary thing for Steve Alford’s band of Bruins and Bruin Nation…
Tulsa is currently on an 11-game winning streak.
You would think that the NCAA selection committee would have given UCLA an – for lack of a better word – easier opponent, but as the cliche goes, the Bruins have to play the hand they are dealt.
At least they will be in their back yard in San Diego, where unlike in the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas UCLA fans will have an ample opportunity to travel down I-5 in droves, pack Viejas Arena, and give their team an edge, which they need to do.
Manning has many weapons at his disposal, including 6’7″ sophomore forward Rashad Smith (12.1 points a game), but it is Woodard, the 6’3″ sophomore guard, that was clearly the team’s MVP as he led Tulsa in both scoring and rebounding.
Meanwhile, after their triumph at the MGM Grand Garden Arena this past weekend these Bruins are looking more and more like they are peaking at the right time.
The Wear twins, Travis and David, have really been playing their best basketball as Bruins in their senior year, particularly during the Pac-12 tournament.
Norman Powell, however, is the UCLA player I’ve noticed the most as his play in Vegas and these last few weeks have cause me and I’m sure the bulk of Bruin Nation to go “Wow!”
So what does this all mean for the Bruins this Friday night?
Before I answer that question, let me state something regarding UCLA’s chances in this March Madness/Big Dance:
With the draw they got – assuming the Bruins win they will play the winner of the Virginia Commonwealth – Stephen F. Austin game on Sunday (probably Virginia Commonwealth, but you never know) – UCLA’s chances of reaching the Sweet 16 are pretty good.
I didn’t feel that way at this time last year as the broken foot suffered by Adams against Arizona in Las Vegas ended the season for me and many other Bruin fans, which was confirmed by their 20-point loss to Minnesota and the subsequent end of Ben Howland’s tenure as coach.
I feel much better about the Bruins’ chances this time around, particularly considering the way they performed in the Pac-12 tourney, though the question of “Which UCLA team will show up?” should still come into play.
After all, they did lose to a Washington State team that only one three games in the conference and ten all season; if they can do that, they certainly can lose to Tulsa.
In other words, the Bruins cannot look past anyone toward a possible Sweet 16 showdown with #1 seed (in the South Regional and overall) Florida; staying humble and hungry is essential.
All right, in answering what does Tulsa’s resume mean to UCLA on Friday:
You’ll have to read my article on how this game will go, which will include a prediction of the score, later this week.
It will appear on this site before Friday.