Bumped. GO BRUINS. - BN Eds.
Which Bruin team shows up?
Finally, March Madness. The #4 seed Bruins (overall #15, RPI #14) face the #13 seed (#52, RPI #73) Golden Hurricanes of Tulsa. Tip-off is Friday at approximately 9:57 ET on TruTV.
Vegas opened up with a line of -8.5 for the Bruins and 40-1 odds that UCLA wins it all.
I haven't seen Tulsa this year, but it turns out they have quite a storied history. Coaches have included current coach Danny Manning and past coaches Bill Self, Tubby Smith Nolan Richardson and Clarence Iba. This school is not fooling around!
Danny Manning, in his second year as coach, has taken his 21-12 Hurricanes to their first NCAA since 2003. They finished the regular Conference USA (moving to AAC next year) season in a four-way tie for first, then won the conference tournament by beating Louisiana Tech 69-60 for their eighth win in a row.
That said, their SOS is only ranked 98, and they are 1-3 vs. the RPI Top 50. Losses include Wichita State, UAB, Creighton, Oklahoma, TCU, Maryland, and Green Bay. No opponents in common, but they did beat Indiana State (last season's home opener) 63-62.
Here are their season stats. What stands out is that they are not a good shooting team: 44% FG, 67 FT and 32% 3P
Their main man is 6-3 guard James Woodard averaging 15.7 PPG, 5.8 rpg and 1.8 apg. 6-7 forward Rashad Smith is the second leading scorer 12.1 ppg and 4.9 rpg. The lineup is rounded out by 6-3 guard Shaquille Harris, 6-3 guard Pat Swilling, and 6-9 forward D'Andre Wright. Small three guard lineup.
So this is a small lineup that doesn't shoot well, however its defense is ranked #28. There's not much out there yet on matchups, but I will update or comment as more info comes out about Tulsa.
In the end, it is all about the Bruins. Which team shows up? The beast of a team that powered through the PAC-12 tourney with an improved, active defense and efficient half-court offense, or the team that slept through horrid losses at WSU, OSU, Stanford and Utah? It shouldn't really matter much in the first round, but then comes #5 VCU or hot #12 SFA.
The interesting thing to watch for in the tourney are the rotations and distribution of minutes. Alford went with his starters vs. Arizona down the late stretch. As usual, the mainstream media didn't ask him about this in the pressers. I don't expect to see the smaller rotation in round one and VCU might wear them down, but by the Sweet Sixteen I expect Alford to go with the smaller rotation. I think there is sufficient rest between games for 18 and 19 year olds in March. In the Ivies, we played back-to-back Friday/Saturday every weekend.
We all want to see the Big 3 plus the now "playing for their lives" Wear twins. I like Tony in the front court with them (listen, its the best we can do for bigs right now).
We're all waiting for the rematch with Florida in the round of 16. Here is a sneak peak-hope I'm not jinxing:
Florida is streaking, but we've seen so many times that means nothing in March, unless we know the team actually grew. I know they lost to UConn and Wisconsin, but beat Kansas, Kentucky and Memphis.
By the numbers, don't seem to be great offensively, but third defensively in points allowed. Rebounding not awe-inspiring.
Looks like they go with 7 guys.
Here is roster. Decent, but not overwhelming size. Guards are 6-2 and 6-4, with a 6-6 wing , PF 6-8, center 6-9. Guard size is good (can they cover Kyle).
Here's hoping and predicting we see the Bruins again next week.