Pacific 10 (31-3, 16-2)
Big Wins: 11/20 vs Michigan State (68-63), 1/3 at Stanford (76-67), 2/7 at Washington State (67-59)
Bad Losses: 12/2 Texas (61-63), 1/19 USC (63-72), 2/10 at Washington (61-71)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2007, Final Four loss to Florida
Coach: Ben Howland (13-6 in 6 NCAA appearances)
Darren Collison, Junior, Guard, 15.2 ppg, 3.9 apg, 1.9 spg
Russell Westbrook, Sophomore, Guard, 12.6 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.8 rpg
Josh Shipp, Junior, Guard, 13.0 ppg, 2.3 apg, 3.2 rpg
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Junior, Forward, 8.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg
Kevin Love, Freshman, Center, 17.1 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 1.1 bpg
Nikola Dragovic, Sophomore, Forward, 2.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg
James Keefe, Sophomore, Forward, 2.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Alfred Aboya, Junior, Forward, 3.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg
Lorenzo Mata-Real, Senior, Center, 3.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
Few teams can compete with the dynamic backcourt of UCLA. Josh Shipp, Russell Westbrook and Darren Collison combine to average over 40 points per game. Shipp is a great athlete on the wing that will slash to the basket and Westbrook has quickly developed into a dynamic playmaker.
Collison is now considered one of the best point guards in the nation. The shifty 6-1 guard is a great distributor. He is no slouch in the scoring department either. Collison will use his speed to get to the basket and has a nice stop and start move that leaves defenders guessing. He does not take a lot of three’s, but he knocks down nearly half of what he does take.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Unfortunately for the Bruins, the rest of the team does not shoot as well from beyond the arc. Shipp will knock some down, but the rest of the long range shooting is pretty much non-existent. That is not a huge deal since the Bruins are smart enough to not take many deep shots, but if for some reason they start getting three-ball happy, UCLA will have some wasted possessions. By the numbers, the field-goal defense does not look that spectacular either. However, it is extremely difficult for any opponent to even get a shot off against that defense. Even if the opposition is shooting nearly 43 percent against the Bruins, it still will not score that many points.
Who To Watch:
For years UCLA has needed a big man that can dominate in the paint on both ends of the floor. For this year, and probably only this year, they have Kevin Love. The super freshman will not only dominate the paint, but he can also step outside and hit the mid-range jumper. However, possibly his greatest asset is his free-throw shooting. Love finds himself at the line about seven times per game and he will make a vast majority of those shots. With Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Alfred Aboya and Lorenzo Real-Mata being more than capable frontcourt players, UCLA has plenty of depth and big bodies to throw at their opponents, although a late season injury to Mbah a Moute is a concern.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.8 (69th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.1 (10, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.4 (15, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.9 (128, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.6 (264, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.3 (158, 9)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.2 (33, 3)
Rebound Margin: 8.8 (2, 1)
Assists Per Game: 14.9 (73, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.8 (49, 6)
Joel’s Bracket Says: National Championship loss to North Carolina
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