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Elite Eight Open Thread: Unknown Experience for UCLA's New Coach

With the news that UCLA has hired New Mexico's Steve Alford as the new head coach in Westwood still fresh, we turn our attention back to the NCAA tournament, with the first pair of Elite Eight games underway today.

Jim McIsaac

Once again, March Madness is down to just eight teams, and for the fifth year in a row, the Bruins are not among the Elite Eight. And ironically, UCLA's new head coach, Steve Alford, has never been to the Elite Eight either. So, we'll have to wait and see if Alford falls flat on his face as he did in Iowa, or if he's grown and matured as a coach, and can finally put it all together and bring UCLA back to being on par with college basketball's other blue-blood programs (Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Kansas).

Today, we have the first pair of regional finals getting underway, starting with the East Regional final match-up between #3-seeded Marquette and #4-seeded Syracuse at 1:30 p.m. PST on CBS. Both teams are fresh off of upsets over the top-two seeded in their region, with the 'Cuse knocking off Tom Crean's #1-seeded Indiana and Marquette dropping #2-seeded Miami. It'll be an interesting match-up between the up-and-comer Williams (making his first Elite Eight appearances) and the seasoned, national title winning Jim Boeheim.

After the East Regional final wraps up, the West Regional final, with #9-seeded Wichita State taking on #2-seeded Ohio State, also on CBS, with tip-off scheduled for 4:05 p.m. PST. Thad Matta will have to take on Gregg Marshall, who was mentioned as a possible second-tier candidate for the UCLA coaching job, before Chianti Dan panicked when Stevens declined and pulled the trigger on a guy who would have still been available after confirming Donovan, Pitino, and hell, Marshall, weren't coming. But why wait and do the process properly when you can make a "splash" hire just before your own contract needs to be renewed?

Alright, so for those of you watching the tournament still, it'll be interesting to see what Williams and Marshall are able to do today. What we do know now, is that, even if they win it all, they won't be coming to Westwood. Nope, we have Steve Alford. Not that we couldn't have gotten him in a few weeks still or anything. Facepalm.