Now that the first round of the 2017 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament is complete and the four worst teams in the conference have been sent home, it’s time to focus on the conference’s top teams.
While Oregon and Arizona both play today, being biased in favor of the Bruins, that means focusing on UCLA. They begin play tonight and they will be facing a familiar foe: crosstown rival Southern Cal.
These teams will be meeting for the third time this year and it’s the first time this year the teams will meet on a neutral court. In the first game at the Galen Center, Southern Cal beat the Bruins while, in the second game in Westwood, UCLA made beating the Trojans look easy as the second stop on the Revenge Tour.
To win the Pac-12 Tournament, the Revenge Tour must continue. In fact, UCLA will probably need to beat each of the three teams that beat the Bruins during the regular season in order to claim the title. But, that’s getting a little ahead of ourselves.
First, UCLA needs to dispense with Southern Cal tonight before worrying about tomorrow because, if they don’t win tonight, there is no tomorrow. Of course, having TJ Leaf back in the lineup for tonight’s game will certainly help UCLA.
Last night, Southern Cal struggled against Washington in the first half. Yes, Washington, the team the Bruins beat on the road by 40 points and at home by 32. If the Huskies had held on, it certainly would have made tonight’s game easier, but you always appreciate the tougher road more when the journey is done.
The Trojans came from behind to beat Washington by five points advancing them to tonight’s game.
There really is only one key to tonight’s game. No, not “win”. The key to tonight’s game is defense. Whichever team plays better defense will win the game. Given that the Bruins have stepped up their game on defense over the last month, it should be them. But, if UCLA is looking ahead to a potential matchup with Arizona tomorrow and lets their guard down, then the Trojans could pull off the upset.
Considering that UCLA has been playing some of the best basketball in the country, that shouldn’t happen. It’s up to the players to avoid letting that happen.
Here’s how to watch:
#3 UCLA Bruins (28-3, 15-3)
Opponent: Southern Cal Trojans (24-8, 10-8)
When: Thursday, March 9, 2017, 8:30 pm PT
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV
TV: ESPN with Dave Pasch and Bill Walton
Stream: WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app
- 1150 AM (Complete Game) and 570 AM (After Clippers Game) in Los Angeles with Josh Lewin and Tracy Murray
- Sirius Channel 145/XM Channel 197 (National feed)
- And, of course, the Bruins Nation Game Thread!
Live Stats: Pac-12 Stat Broadcast