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What's Bruin: UCLA Basketball's Lonzo Ball vs. Washington's Markelle Fultz

A look at tomorrow's matchup between the freshman phenoms, plus other UCLA news.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Men’s Basketball

Mark Titus had some special words about UCLA in his weekly power rankings on The Ringer this week (he has the Bruins ranked 10th, by the way).

Only one team wins the national title every year anyway, and while I’d like to see UCLA start actually giving some effort on defense, I don’t think it needs to bother trying to change its identity. At this point in the season, the Bruins should double-down on their approach, cross their fingers, and hope the March Madness gods look down upon them favorably.

Maybe UCLA will lose some games it shouldn’t along the way, but I like to think of that as an occupational hazard that comes with its style of play. For all their flaws, the Bruins are capable of beating any team in the country by 25 on any given night, which is something that can’t be said of anyone else.

Saturday night's game at Washington will pit two of the top point guard prospects in the country against each other--the only match up of the season between Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz before both likely depart to the professional realm.

Matt Cummings at the Daily Bruin previews the match up.

For months, the two freshmen point guards have sat together at the top of one NBA mock draft after another.

Fultz’s name is usually above Ball’s because whereas Ball faces questions about his shooting mechanics or his ability to score off the dribble, Fultz doesn’t really have a weakness.

At Colin Ward-Henninger doesn’t think that Lonzo Ball is a sure thing in the NBA.

As I mentioned earlier, I've done this sort of thing before, trying to quell the fervor surrounding a talented but enigmatic UCLA guard, and last time it didn't go well at all. Yes, my name will forever be attached to an article titled, "Don't draft Russell Westbrook," because my friends and I beat his team in a pickup game at UCLA and I felt the need to tell everyone about how bad Westbrook played. I'm not proud of it -- I was young, still buzzing off probably the biggest athletic achievement of my life -- but I've learned from my mistakes.

This time is different. This time, I have statistics on my side. This time, I'm basing my conclusions on facts and a strong sample size of data -- rather than a Saturday afternoon pickup game.

Okay, then.

Freshman forward TJ Leaf has been selected as one of 10 finalists for the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award.

Speaking of our old friend Russell, if you still like the guy (and I do) the New York Times Magazine has a long read for you.

Westbrook is not merely a superelite athlete (he is commonly referred to as the most athletic player in the N.B.A.); he also has a highly unusual mind. He is moody, stubborn, loyal and fiercely private, a control freak and a perfectionist. Outside a very small circle of family and friends, he refuses to be known. The triple-doubles, their sheer unreasonableness, are as much a reflection of this personality as of any particular basketball skills. Each time he registers one it is like a signal — a ping from the sealed box of his private mind.

Let’s have TJ Leaf send us into the weekend...