NCAA March Madness Preview – UCLA Bruins

UCLA Bruins

Pac-12 (29-4, 15-3)

 by Dan Levine

UCLA jumped onto to the scene early with impressive play, climbed the polls, and never looked back.  They are one of the few teams that have relied heavily on freshmen this season.  It has worked out for them.  Steve Alford, who has had success everywhere he’s coached, has his best team to date with these Bruins.  The up-and-down style lends itself to a lot of points.  UCLA can make a run towards April with this group – if they improve their defense.

Big Wins: 12/3 at Kentucky (97-92), 2/9 Oregon (82-79), 2/25 at Arizona (77-72)

Bad Losses: 12/28 at Oregon (87-89), 1/21 Arizona (85-96), 1/25 at USC (76-84)

Coach: Steve Alford

Why They Can Surprise:

Point blank this is one of the most offensively talented teams in the country.  In a back-and-forth game, not many teams can outlast UCLA.  Their freshmen stars, point guard Lonzo Ball and forward T.J. Leaf, have been nothing short of sensational.  Ball, a projected top-2 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, is an outstanding leader as a freshman.  He is such an important part of what they do that he leads the team in minutes.  An elite assist man (over seven per game), he also shoots 41 percent from three.

Their transition offense is stellar and they can beat you inside the arc or from long range.  Bryce Alford, the coach’s son, always seems to be able to hit a big three for the Bruins whether it’s to stop an opponent’s run or to get the crowd fired up.  Six players are averaging double-figures for Alford’s squad.  That is proficiency at its finest.  They will be hard to stop.

Why They Can Disappoint:

If UCLA has a weakness it was on display during their “swoon” in mid-January against Arizona and USC.  Their defense was lackluster at best and it spelled doom for them in those two games.  Even in their wins, their opponents are filling it up.  They allow over 75 points per game which is among the bottom third nationally.  Usually they are able to mask their defensive weaknesses with their explosive offense.  But if the shots are not falling, than the Bruins might find themselves in some trouble.  They have played the same style all season to resounding success.  They will live and die with it.

Probable Starters:

Lonzo Ball, Freshman, Guard, 14.6 ppg, 7.7 apg, 6.1 rpg, 1.9 spg

Thomas Welsh, Junior, Center, 10.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.4 bpg

T.J. Leaf, Freshman, Forward, 16.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.2 bpg

Bryce Alford, Senior, Guard, 15.8 ppg, 2.6 apg

Isaac Hamilton, Senior, Guard, 14.1 ppg, 2.8 apg

Key Role Players:

Ike Anigbogu, Freshman, Forward, 4.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg

Aaron Holiday, Sophomore, Guard, 12.6 ppg, 4.2 apg

Gyorgy Goloman, Junior, Forward, 3.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 91.3 (1st in nation, 1st in conference)

Scoring Defense: 75.0 (245, 9)

Field-Goal Percentage: 52.6 (1, 1)

Field-Goal Defense: 41.7 (69, 5)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 10.1 (9, 1)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 41.5 (3, 1)

Free-Throw Percentage: 73.6 (65, 5)

Rebound Margin: 4.3 (52, 4)

Assists Per Game: 21.7 (1, 1)

Turnovers Per Game: 11.4 (39, 3)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2015    NCAA Round of 64 win over SMU

2015    NCAA Round of 32 win over UAB

2015    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Gonzaga

2014    NCAA Round of 64 win over Tulsa

2014    NCAA Round of 32 win over Stephen F. Austin

2014    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Florida

2013    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Minnesota

2011    NCAA Round of 64 win over Michigan State

2011    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Florida

2009    NCAA Round of 64 win over VCU

2009    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Villanova

2008    NCAA Round of 64 win over Mississippi Valley State

2008    NCAA Round of 32 win over Texas A&M

2008    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Western Kentucky

2008    NCAA Regional Final win over Xavier

2008    NCAA National Semifinal loss to Memphis

2007    NCAA Round of 64 win over Weber State

2007    NCAA Round of 32 win over Indiana

2007    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Pittsburgh

2007    NCAA Regional Final win over Kansas

2007    NCAA National Semifinal loss to Florida

2006    NCAA Round of 64 win over Belmont

2006    NCAA Round of 32 win over Alabama

2006    NCAA Regional semifinal win over Gonzaga

2006    NCAA Regional final win over Memphis

2006    NCAA National semifinal win over LSU

2006    NCAA National Final loss to Florida

*all team stats through 3/5

Play March Madness Daily Fantasy Sports here.

This article has 1 Comment

Leave a Reply