Friday, March 20, 2009

Round 2: UCLA

Foe: #6 University of California, Los Angeles Bruins (26-8)(13-5)

Recent History: Eric Maynor missed a shot at the buzzer, allowing UCLA to escape with a 65-64 win, setting up this second round matchup. UCLA is the most successful college basketball program of all time, and one of the best of the past few years. They have made 3-straight Final Fours, and like Villanova, this year's senior class its the winningest in school history. Villanova is 1-2 all-time against UCLA. Nova lost to the Bruins in the 1971 NCAA Championship game 68-62. The two schools later met for a home-and-home series in 2001 and 2002. UCLA won 93-65 at the Pauley Pavilion in '01. Then in '02, Jay Wright's first season, Nova upset the Jason Kapono led Bruins 58-57 at Villanova's Pavilion. UCLA lost a big chunk of last year's team to the NBA draft: Russell Westbrook (#4), Kevin Love (#5), and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (#37), and all three players have had impressive rookie seasons. Despite the losses, the Bruins return a good team led by a trio of seniors: shooting guard Josh Shipp (14.4 ppg), point gurad Darren Collison (14.4 ppg, 4.9 apg), and 6'9 F/C Alfred Aboya (9.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg). 6'9 forward Nikola Dragovic is a threat from the perimeter (9.4 ppg, 37.7% 3-PT). They also feature a talented freshman guard and future NBA prospect, Jrue Holiday (8.6 ppg), although his defense is probably better than his offense at this point. Ben Howland's teams always put defense first, and this team is no exception.

Best Win: 85-76 vs. then #19 Washington

Worst Loss: 82-81 vs. Washington State (only loss to a non-NCAA Tournament team)

Famous Alumni: Basketball: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Arron Afflalo, Trevor Ariza, Matt Barnes, Baron Davis, Tyus Edney, Jordan Farmar, Dan Gadzuric, Gail Goodrich, Jason Kapono, Kevin Love, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Reggie Miller, Bill Walton, Earl Watson, Russell Westbrook
Other: Sean Astin, Elizabeth Berkley, Jack Black, Francis Ford Coppola, James Dean, James Franco, Heather Locklear, Marilyn Monroe, Tim Robbins, Ben Stiller, George Takei, Jim Morrison, John Williams, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Troy Aikman, Arthur Ashe, Jeff Conine, Troy Glaus, Jimmy Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Michelle Kwan, Jackie Robinson, Chase Utley

Fun Facts:
  • UCLA has a record 11 National Championships: 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, and 1995.
  • UCLA won 88 consecutive games from 1971 to 1974.
  • Overall, UCLA athletics have won 124 National Championships.

Complimentary Youtube Video:

Final Verdict
: This UCLA team has seemingly flown under the radar this year, despite being ranked all season. A team with this much tournament experience should not be taken lightly. Villanova cannot afford to fall behind early to a team that is this good defensively. They need to play 40 minutes of Villanova Basketball to have any chance of winning. Most importantly, Scottie Reynolds needs to bring his 'A' game because Dante Cunningham will have a much tougher time scoring inside.

TV: 1:05 PM on CBS and


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