Much has been made of Long Beach State playing five non-conference opponents who were ranked in the Top 15 of the major preseason polls. Many wondered how Dan Monson's team would navigate such a slate in spite of the fact that this experienced group went through a similar schedule last season. If Wednesday night showed anything about the 49ers it's that they're ready for the challenge, as they handed Pittsburgh its' first loss in November or December at the Petersen Events Center in the history of the arena.
In all honesty it shouldn't come as a surprise that UCLA struggled with an in-state non-conference opponent, the very teams that most in the fan base expect the Bruins to simply roll over regardless of their level of interest. But in recent seasons it's become more of an issue as the Bruins haven't been talented enough to simply flip the switch, and there was another hard lesson to learn in the LA Sports Arena. The preseason pick to win the Pac-12 shot 40.7% from the field and made just two of fifteen from beyond the arc in a 69-58 loss to Loyola Marymount.
Next up is the Southeast region, which contributed to the craziness of the NCAA Tournament beginning with Butler knocking off top-seed Pittsburgh in the third round. The question now is what's next for the entire region beginning with the Panthers, who welcome a solid recruiting class while also waiting to see what Ashton Gibbs' decision in regards to staying in the NBA Draft will be.
Southeast Region - Washington, D.C.
March 17 - 3:10 truTV
(1) Pittsburgh vs. (16) UNC Asheville/Arkansas-Little Rock