While today’s game is a rematch of last season’s Round of 32 matchup between the UCLA Bruins and the Bearcats that took place in Sacramento, it really isn’t much of a rematch. That’s because five of the eight Bruins who played in that game have now gone off to play in the NBA.
That won’t make the #25 Cincinnati Bearcats want revenge any less.
And, with today being Star Wars Day at Pauley Pavilion, look for the Bearcats to think of the Bruins as the Evil Empire, even if the modern-day Bruins look more like the First Order, a shadow of their former selves.
And for the Bruins, look for new heroes to arise much in the same way that a new generation of heroes have risen for the Resistance.
(Editor’s Note: Go see Star Wars: The Last Jedi this weekend if you can get tickets. You won’t be sorry.)
The Bearcats return 3 of their top 4 scorers from last year’s NCAA Tournament game between these teams including Jarron Cumberland, Jacob Evans III and Gary Clark. But, Cincinnati’s other two starters Justin Jenifer and Kyle Washington both played in the game.
When the teams met last year in Sacramento, the Bruins had trouble with the Bearcat defense in the first half and trailed by 3 at halftime, 33-30, but they managed to come back with their high-powered offense. The Bruin offense is not as potent as they were last season. So, UCLA could find themselves in trouble if they are trailing the Bearcats late.
The Bearcats’ only two losses so far this season have come at the hands of ranked opponents with the losses coming against #21 Xavier and #5 Florida.