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How to Watch UCLA Bruins at Southern Cal Trojans: Game Preview, Time, TV, Live Stream and More

UCLA tries to boost their NCAA Tournament resume in the last game of the regular season.

USC v UCLA Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

This is the last game of the season and it’s important not only because it’s against USC but because this game could make or break UCLA’s season. It is unclear if UCLA will have a spot in this year’s NCAA tournament and this game could go a long way towards deciding that. It also may be the last chance for Steve Alford to save his job.

Does UCLA deserve to qualify for the NCAA Tournament?

This is a tough question to answer. Before I give my attempt, it’s worth noting that ESPN does not have UCLA qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins are one of Joe Lunardi’s “First Four Out” and that qualification is, as of right now, essentially a coin toss.

UCLA has a couple of impressive wins, including a win over No. 19 Arizona and No. 23 Kentucky. Also worth noting is that they took No. 15 Michigan to overtime on the road. At their best, they’re capable of playing with most top twenty-five teams. On the other hand, this is a team that has been badly embarrassed by inconsistency. Losses to Stanford and Oregon State are a major stain, not to mention, back to back road losses against two beatable teams in Colorado and Utah.

Advanced metrics don’t prove very useful either. They’re currently ranked 52nd in RPI and 59th in BPI, close enough that their tournament aspirations hinge completely on this one final game. Those rankings if combined, suggest that UCLA should be a 14 or 15 seed. Again, that’s right on the edge. The folks at TR Brackets give UCLA a 53.2% of chance of making the cut.

Do they deserve it? Hard to say. They’ve underperformed and they’ve crumbled at crucial moments. Are they one of 64 best teams in the nation? The answer is probably, but that doesn’t guarantee anything.

The table below has the probabilities TR Brackets gives UCLA of making it to each round.

Probability UCLA Makes it to Round X

Round of 64 Round of 32 Sweet Sixteen Elite Eight Final Four
Round of 64 Round of 32 Sweet Sixteen Elite Eight Final Four
53.20% 20.80% 5.70% 1.80% 0.50%

Previewing the Trojans

The Trojans are led by a pair of junior forwards, Chimezie Metu, who with one game left in the regular season is averaging 15.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, and 6’10’’ Bennie Boatwright, who averages 13.6 points per game while leading the team in threes. However, Boatwright is out for the year after suffering a season-ending left patella injury against Oregon on February 15th. Expect sophomore Nick Rakocevic to start in his place. There’s definitely a performance drop off from Boatwright to Rakocevic as Rakocevic is only averaging 7.6 ppg and 5.4 rebounds per game. Jordan McLaughlin is the heart and soul of Southern Cal. McLaughlin averages 12.3 points per game and 7.6 assists per game. The starting lineup is rounded out by guards Elijah Stewart, who is averaging 11.4 ppg, and Jonah Matthews, who is averaging 8.9 ppg.

Overall, USC has a tough offense, which UCLA may struggle to keep in check. They have good size and can play tough in the post, while also possessing the ability to play fast and shoot from range. Every player in their starting five can shoot from three. They’re also commit very few turnovers downr the stretch. Shutting down USC’s offense may be a tough task for UCLA’s meek defense.

To put it simply, USC is a tough matchup on the road. The Trojans are strong on both ends of the court, they don’t make a lot of mistakes, and have the size and range to stretch UCLA. UCLA has the potential to win, but it won’t be easy.

Go Bruins!