Home » Blog » March Madness 2017: UCLA is on the move

March Madness 2017: UCLA is on the move

The UCLA Bruins are really, really good … and hardly anybody outside of Los Angeles is paying attention.

For anyone of a generation ago, the first part of that sentence would have been very familiar. The second part would have been thought to be impossible Under John Wooden in the 1960s and early 1970s, it was a much safer bet to take UCLA against the field at the start of a college basketball season than the other way around.

Wooden became the Wizard of Westwood, and now has the court named after him at Pauley Pavilion. He won 10 NCAA championships, including a run of seven straight between 1967-75. In terms that a younger person of today’s age could understand, UCLA basketball in the men’s game was akin to what the UConn women are doing in their sport.

This year, the Bruins are threatening to put up another banner in Los Angeles. UCLA is ranked No. 5 in the latest Associated Press poll and on Thursday night, easily dispatched the Arizona State Sun Devils on the road, 87-75. With the win, UCLA has moved to 25-3 (12-3), continuing to put it on track for the top line once March Madness gets here. If that is the case, UCLA basically has home-court advantage throughout the first two rounds of the tournament, giving it a clear path to the Sweet 16.

The Bruins are the rare breed of team in college basketball that can beat you with star power and depth. Six players average in double digits, while eight men play at least 11 minutes per game. If UCLA gets into foul trouble, there are answers up and down the bench.

While much of the attention has been on freshman Lonzo Ball and the outlandish statements that have surfaced from his father, the substance of the team should be the main focus. Ball is averaging 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists per game, but he’s far from the only headliner. Fellow freshman TJ Leaf leads the team with 16.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. There is Bryce Alford with 16 points per game, providing excellent three-point shooting at 46 percent from beyond the arc.

UCLA has more than proven its worth throughout the year with quality wins all over the map, including a road win over the Kentucky Wildcats and a split of two games with the No. 6 Oregon Ducks. Next up are the No. 4 Arizona Wildcats in the desert, with the Bruins trying to avenge a 96-85 loss back on Jan. 21.

In a year where there is no clear favorite, keep an eye on UCLA. The Bruins aren’t getting a ton of hype, but they have the right stuff for a run in March.

  • 100%