This is the biggest game of the basketball season for UCLA Men's Hoops. For at least three reasons:
1. To attain CBH's stated goal of a 500 season we need to go 4-3 for the rest of the season and 1-1 in the PAC 10 Tourney. (Note this is a minimum). CBH has said you need to split road games and win home games. Winning home games should be easy as the Oregon Schools aren't that good (2 wins). Winning at WSU should not be hard as far as PAC-10 road games go. That game has the added bonus for this UCLA team as WSU is the team that ND has played best again. That means we still need one win against $C, UW, AZ, and ASU.
UW played really stupid last time (for example, they were content to shoot threes for most of the game) and Hec Ed. is a tough place to play. Their athletic guards and Pondexter should be trouble on the road. ASU is playing well right now and it will be tough for this team to sweep a season series. In addition the ASU game is a Saturday game after a Thursday game, historically tougher for CBH teams. That means we need to beat $C or AZ at a minimum to get to 500. Ironically it comes down to beating one of our rivals on the road. I say $C is more important for the obvious reasons below.
2. Good coaches teams improve during the season and win rematches of big games. Two examples from UCLA lore. The first is UCLA v. Houston on January 20, 1968 in the "Game of the Century" which was the first regular season game played in a place as big as the Astrodome and broadcast nationwide in prime time. Houston won 71-69. When we played them again in the Tourney semi-finals, we destroyed them 101-69.
A negative example happen in 1992. We beat Indiana in November of 1991 87-72 in a road win. It was a big deal for an early season game. However, the Bobby Knight team we played in the regional finals that year was a much improved team and destroyed us 106-79, despite UCLA being the 1 seed playing out west.
The point being better coaches improve their teams through the season and avenge bad losses. While losing to CSULB was terrible, there is nothing worse than losing to your rival at home. A win at $C tonight would be a great sign of improvement and is important to avenge a bad loss.
3. CBH seems to be his best after long breaks. He has had a long time to prepare for $C. He needs to deliver this game with eight days to prepare.
Again, I am not arguing the merits of going 500. I am saying that CBH needs to win this game for his goal. This is a big game for CBH for the other reasons above as well. Beat $C!