The Sports Illustrated No. 18 ranked 2018 UCLA Men’s Basketball Team released their non-conference schedule yesterday.
As you can see, there are definitely some interesting games on the non-conference schedule this year. There are only two true away games and we know now that when it comes to tournament time, road wins against quality teams are the quadrant one wins that teams must get.
So, let’s take a quick look at the non-conference schedule and my VERY early prediction for each game.
The first non-conference game is against Purdue! Starting off against a Big 10 team that went 30-7 last year would be a great starting point for the Bruins. But wait, it is the Purdue-Fort Wayne Mastodons, who went 18-15 overall and 7-7 in the Summit League, visiting Pauley Pavilion on November 6th, not the Boilermakers of the Big 10. So, UCLA should start off the season with an immediate win.
UCLA will definitely be looking for some payback when Long Beach State visits on November 9th and I would expect the entire UCLA Men’s Volleyball Team to be in attendance. We all remember that five-set match that the Bruins played against Long Beach State and, unfortunately, lost. So, payback is in order. UCLA will also look to repeat a 2016 shellacking of Long Beach State, 114-77, and they will. UCLA will be 2-0.
Up next for the Bruins will be Saint Francis University and, with twelve players including five starters returning for the Red Flash, this just seems to be one of those games that could be a struggle for a young UCLA team. UCLA will still win and go 3-0.
After struggling three days earlier with the Red Flash, the Bruins should be able to dismantle the Presbyterian Blue Hose that will also be returning most of their squad. UCLA will win easily and go into the Michigan State game 4-0.
The 2018 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational is up next for the Bruins. This tournament will match the UCLA Bruins against the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans lost two key players in Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson to the NBA Draft. But if there is a coach that can figure out how to replace talent, it’s Tom Izzo. MSU is ranked in the top 12 in most early season rankings, and with Nick Ward, Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Matt McQuaid back, and a class of freshmen that includes five 4-star recruits, the Spartans will be tough as usual. Cassius Winston will be the engine that runs this team, and there might not be a better passer in the country.
With this game being played on a neutral court, this is one of those wins that could help UCLA at the end of the year when it’s tournament time. Granted, it wouldn’t be a road win, but it would be a win against MSU. Call me crazy, UCLA will pull the upset and start off 5-0.
The UNC game and University of Texas game will be played right before the Bruins and MSU game on November 22nd, and UNC should prevail, which would then match up the Bruins with the Tar Heels on Friday, November 23.
North Carolina lost Joel Berry and Theo Pinson, but they, too, are one of those teams that religiously bring in top ten recruiting classes to ease the transition of losing players and this year is no different. The Tar Heels bring in five-star prospects Nassir Little and Coby White in the Class of 2018. Those two will pair with veterans like Luke Maye, Cameron Johnson and Kenny Williams. It looks like point guard might be the position of concern for UNC this year as junior Seventh Woods will take over the point.
This will be an entertaining game, but UCLA will be stuffed after the MSU upset and the Orleans Buffet and lose this game. UCLA will head into their November 28th game at 5-1.
UCLA will definitely handle Hawaii and Loyola Marymount University and take their record up to 7-1 before their next test.
December 8th will bring Notre Dame to Pauley. Notre Dame will be in a similar situation as the Bruins as their freshmen will be expected to make an impact. Seniors Matt Farrell, Bonzie Colson, Martenis Geben, and Austin Torres are gone and graduated. Notre Dame will have a very young squad come this winter with only two seniors.
With this being a home game, UCLA should definitely win this game and go 8-1.
Another Bruins team will come to Pauley on December 15th, the Belmont Bruins. Last season Belmont did not win a regular season Ohio Valley Conference title. That was the first time since 2008-2009. The Bruins are no pushover, and they have obviously been a powerhouse in the Ohio Valley Conference. They return Dylan Windler, Senior, Guard/Forward, 17.3 ppg. and Kevin McClain, Senior, Guard, 12.6 ppg.
This is another one of those games that the Bruins can lose, and will need a great effort to beat the Bruins. They will come away with a close win, and go into their trip to Cincinnati with a 9-1 record.
The Bearcats are losing some talent from last year’s 31-5 team. Cornerstone Jacob Evans was the 28th overall selection in this summer’s NBA draft. Forwards Gary Clark (12.9 points per game last season) and Kyle Washington (11.3 point per game last season) are also gone. Jarron Cumberland (11.5 points per game) is the top returning scorer.
If there is a year for UCLA to get a win against the Bearcats in Cincinnati, this is the year. The Bearcats are down this year and UCLA will win this game. 10-1 is what they will be as they travel to Chicago to take on Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic.
UCLA looks to hit another team that is not predicted to have the strongest of seasons. CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein predicts a 10th place finish for the Buckeyes in the Big 10. Ohio State is another team that is going to look to it’s freshman to help prove that 10th place prediction wrong. Forward Jaedon LeDee and guard Luther Muhammad are supposed to be impact freshmen, while guard Duane Washington and swingman Justin Ahrens are other freshman that should contribute.
This game being on another neutral court at the United Center in Chicago. Playing in this arena will add to the excitement for this young UCLA team and help propel them to 11-1.
After the two-game road trip, UCLA will end their out of conference schedule against the Liberty Flames. An 11-1 Bruins team will easily win this game at home even with the student section thinned out by the Christmas break and the Bruins will end the out of conference schedule with a 12-1 record.
I know some of you will say this is impossible, but the Bruins are truly catching some teams that should be in off-years. I know there is a lot that can happen between now and the start of the season, but China will not be one of those things. I definitely see a very strong non-conference start for UCLA this year.
Here’s the full non-conference schedule.
2018 UCLA Non-Conference Schedule
|November 6||Purdue Fort Wayne||18-15||Summit League||Pauley Pavilion|
|November 9||Long Beach St||15-18||Big West||Pauley Pavilion|
|November 16||Saint Francis||18-13||Northwest||Pauley Pavilion|
|November 19||Presbyterian||11-21||Big South||Pauley Pavilion|
|November 22||Michigan State||30-5||Big Ten||Las Vegas|
|November 23||Texas/UNC||19-15/21-12||Big 12/Atlantic Coast||Las Vegas|
|November 28||Hawai'i||17-13||Big West||Pauley Pavilion|
|December 2||Loyola Marymount||11-20||West Coast||Pauley Pavilion|
|December 8||Notre Dame||21-15||Atlantic Coast||Pauley Pavilion|
|December 16||Belmont||24-9||Ohio Valley||Pauley Pavilion|
|December 19||Cincinnati||31-5||American Athletic||Cincinnati|
|December 22||Ohio State||25-9||Big Ten||Chicago|
|December 29||Liberty||22-15||Big South||Pauley Pavilion|
How many wins will UCLA have in the non-conference schedule?
This poll is closed
Less than 10 wins