NCAA West: UCLA must find consistency before the NCAA Tournament
UCLA basketball fans have been on a rollercoaster ride all season. Win one big game, lose one to a lesser talented team. Win another big one and then lose again. The Bruins have been up and down and inconsistent all season nevertheless, they are 19-7 overall and tied for second in the Pac-12 with Arizona, only a game behind front running Oregon.
The final stretch of Pac-12 games are facing the Bruins and over the next three weeks UCLA and its fans will see if the Bruins can play well enough to make the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins were optimistic during the preseason, but those are all but gone however, the team still has a good chance at making the NCAA’s and having some success once they are there.
Only a handful of games remain for the Bruins to right the ship, secure a spot in the NCAAs and prepare to make a good showing once selected.
UCLA needs to shoot the ball better because their rebounding is poor and second chance hoops are a rarity for the team. Down low, Kyle Anderson and the Wear twins do not give UCLA’s perimeter shooters much of a margin for error as they are regularly out rebounded by opponents.
Down low, the defense for UCLA is also weak and that means teams are scoring easier and more points against the Bruins, making it even that much more important that the team shoots a much higher percentage on the offensive end.
Against the Sanford Cardinal, the Bruins hit 54% of their shots and 50% from three-point range and won even though they allowed the Cardinal to score 80 points and put up 78 shots during the game. However, when they shoot just 35% from the floor and only 21% from three-point land like they did against Arizona State they cannot afford to give up 70 or more shots as they did and lost.
UCLA must sweep their remaining at home games against the teams from Arizona. Earlier the Bruins defeated Arizona on the road and then lost to Arizona State on the road. The win against Arizona shocked many, but then a couple of days later to lose against Arizona State just stamped the inconsistent label back on the Bruins.
To rid themselves of that inconsistency the Bruins must won both of their home games against the Wildcats and Sun Devils. Not only would it help their consistency and confidence, but also it will keep them near the top or at the top in the conference.
UCLA needs to finish their Pac-12 conference schedule on an up note. The Bruins end their conference schedule with two road games against the schools in Washington.
Those games will be important for the NCAA selection committee, as they will be the most recent in the committee’s minds. UCLA defeated both Washington teams at home recently and most likely can win both on the road, but that common denominator of inconsistency keeps rearing its ugly head.
Just less than a month remains on the UCLA schedule, but with tough conference games, the team can work on its consistency, chemistry and shooting and that will help them be selected to a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament and give them a shot at winning a game or two in the tournament.