In case you didn't know, Stephen F Austin was like the George Washington of Texas. And since Texas was its own country for a while, that was a very big deal.
The University which bears his name hasn't always been a very big deal as far as basketball goes, but they are the second hottest team in the country and they are the most important team in the tournament today.
Our 4th seeded U.C.L.A. Bruins (27-8) will take on the 12 seed SF Austin Lumberjacks (32-2) this evening in San Diego for the right to go meet Florida in the Sweet 16. The Bruins haven't been to the Sweet 16 since 2008, the last of Ben Howland's Final Four runs. The Lumberjacks haven't been to the Sweet 16 ever. Their upset win in OT over VCU on Friday was their first tournament victory and only their second tournament game. It also seemingly paved a smooth road for the Bruins to advance to the next round.
Tipoff is scheduled for 4:10 PT and this is the early game in San Diego, so the start time is solid. The game will be televised on TBS with Andrew Catalon, Mike Gminski, and Otis Livingston on the call. Radio coverage via Westwood One (that has such a good sound to it) will be on TuneIn here. Live stats will be available via CBS Game Tracker here.
P did an outstanding preview of this game yesterday that everyone should read. The ratings suggest a closer game than we might think, but by nearly all comparisons, the Bruins are the better team.
The Bruins cruised past Tulsa on Friday on the strength of Jordan Adams' 21 points and 8 rebounds and Norman Powell's 15 points. Powell's defense and 3 steals set an early tone for the Bruins who also got solid contributions from a resurgent Travis Wear and an improving Tony Parker. Despite Kyle Anderson having an off night (well, for him anyway, he was still 8-6-6) on Friday, a host of Bruins stepped up and the Bruins had a good - but not great - all-around game. They will need another complete performance tonight against the Lumberjacks who have only lost 2 games all season. SFA's gaudy record and their 29 game win streak are pretty impressive, and though they really haven't played many teams with the caliber and depth of skill players like U.C.L.A., they've beaten virtually all of those teams, and that includes the former 5 seed in our region. So the Bruins cannot overlook SFA just yet, but this is still a game the Bruins absolutely should win.
U.C.L.A. and SFA have only met once before. That was a Bruin win in 1995. You know. That year. Well, ok, that calendar year. We'll take it as a good omen.
Believe The Sleeve!