The UCLA men’s water polo team begins the defense of their national championship this afternoon when they face the George Washington Colonials in the NCAA Men’s Water Polo Tournament at 2:45 pm PT.
The real men’s water polo season starts today. That’s because every game matters now. The goal over the next few days is simple. As Jim Valvano put it, survive and advance.
And, it won’t be an easy road for the Bruins. After going 22-4 during the regular season, UCLA earned the three seed for this year’s tournament. That means that UCLA has to play today and the winner of today’s game advances to play Southern Cal on Saturday.
George Washington Colonials
The 11th-ranked George Washington Colonials advanced to today’s game by defeating the Princeton Tigers, 14-13, last Saturday.
The Colonials won the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference to earn their NCAA bid.
They finished the regular season with a 23-6 record, but we shouldn’t pretend that this makes the Colonials a good team. They didn’t defeat any team in the Top Ten and, in fact, they only played one team ranked in the Top Ten and that was Harvard, who was ranked ninth at the time. George Washington lost to the Crimson, 12-11, at the Princeton Invitational.
So, today’s game should be a lot like last week’s tune-up game against Penn State Behrend. It shouldn’t be close. The Bruins should score at least 15 goals and give up fewer than 10 goals.
I think the final will likely be somewhere in the neighborhood of 16-6, setting up a rubber match against Southern Cal for the right to play for the national championship.