Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
Well, the tournament selection show has aired; and with that, the NCAA's selection committee has handed down its bracket seedings. As easy as it is to look ahead at the possible matchups that the Bruins may face in the upcoming weeks, let us not overlook our first challenge in this three-week final exam of the season that is the NCAA tournament.
For those that missed the unveiling of the brackets, or the ensuing analysis on ESPN, UCLA has drawn as its first-round opponent Mississippi Valley State - best known for having produced perhaps the greatest football player of them all in Jerry Rice. The basics:
MVSU has an overall record of 18-15 (15-15 against D-1 opponents). The team finished second in the Southwestern Conference (SWAC)'s regular season with a 12-6 record, gaining the league's automatic bid by winning the conference tournament. UCLA and MVSU faced one common opponent this season - Washington State. WSU won that meeting by a score of 71-26 (yes, you are reading that score right) in Spokane. In sum, MVSU has faced three teams in the field of 65; losing road games against Pitt (45-78) and Baylor (50-82) in addition to WSU.
Now, for more of a statistical look at this matchup:
- There are 341 teams playing Division 1 basketball in the 2007-08 season, 10 of which are not eligible to participate in the tournament.
- While many here question the validity of conference rankings, it should be noted that all of the rating systems that I have cited (RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin) consider the SWAC to be the weakest conference in Division 1 this season.
Delving deeper into MVSU, I refer to the statistical work done by Ken Pomeroy, which Nestor used to examine UCLA's defense here, and I have previously used to compare this year's squad to the last two UCLA Final Four teams.
- Offense: 87.6 points/100 possessions (#325 in D-1).
- Defense: 107.8 points/100 possessions (#257 in D-1).
- Pace: 64.7 possessions/40 minutes.
- Offense: 120.7 points/100 possessions (#5)
- Defense: 84.5 points/100 possessions (#4)
- Pace: 65.6 possessions/40 minutes.
- UCLA: 79-55
- MVSU: 57-70