When UCLA visited Washington State last month, the Bruins left Pullman with a 16-point win, but it was close for much of the game and UCLA’s biggest lead of the game was 19.
So, today may be a closer game than Wednesday night’s win over the Huskies. But, it still doesn’t change the fact that there should be three goals for UCLA today.
The first is, obviously, win the game. UCLA needs to keep winning in order to ensure the best possible seeding in the NCAA Tournament when the brackets are announced a week from tomorrow.
The second goal today is to send the team’s three seniors out in style. Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton and Jerrold Smith are all playing in their final game at Pauley today. This is their day and they all deserve thanks for their contributions to UCLA Basketball. If you haven’t already read DCBruins’ salute to “Bryce Bruin”, I highly recommend it.
The third and final goal today is to exit tonight’s game as well-rested and injury-free as possible. Obviously, TJ Leaf will sit tonight’s game out after landing on Noah Dickerson’s foot on Wednesday. But, the fact is that UCLA Coach Steve Alford needs to pull his starters off the floor as soon as possible.
After Wednesday’s game, Alford said he didn’t have the “secret recipe” as to when that is.
Thanks to noted statistician Bill James, we have that formula.
If the opponent has the ball:
If we have the ball:
In both equations, x equals the size of the lead and t equals the time left in the game in seconds. Once the equation is greater than one, the lead is safe and Steve Alford should start getting the starters out of the game.
Why? The goal is to keep the team healthy and well-rested for next weekend’s Pac-12 Tournament and the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
Admittedly, it’s not a “perfect” formula. James himself admits that it’s not foolproof. So, maybe, it’s reasonable to wait until the left side of the equation is greater than 1.1 or 1.25 to be completely safe.
Today’s game almost certainly won’t be over with twelve minutes left like Thursday’s game was because Washington State is a better team than the Huskies, but there’s still no reason to leave guys in today’s game longer than necessary.
Here’s how to watch:
#3/2 UCLA Bruins (27-3, 14-3)
Opponent: Washington State Cougars (13-16, 6-11)
When: Saturday, March 4, 2017, 7:15 pm PT
Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
TV: ESPN with Steve Quis, Sean Farnham and Jill Montgomery
Stream: WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app
- 1150 AM in Los Angeles with Josh Lewin and Tracy Murray
- Sirius Channel 137/XM Channel 197 (UCLA feed)
- And, of course, the Bruins Nation Game Thread!
Live Stats: UCLA Bruins Stat Broadcast