UCLA lost a lot of talent to the NBA this offseason. Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine were all drafted while Travis Wear caught on with an NBA team after Summer League. That’s a lot of talent that has gone bye bye.
SMU and their head coach Larry Brown (who always looks like he can’t find his keys) have been nearly automatic since early-season losses. They have learned to be patient with the ball. The Mustangs finished the regular season in the top 25 in both assists per game and field goal percentage.
Can Alford quiet all the ‘UCLA shouldn’t be the tournament’ naysayers?
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After starting the year out 2-3 with losses to Gonzaga, Indiana and Arkansas, SMU rallied and went 25-3 the rest of the year. They don’t have any elite marquee wins, but they do have wins against tournament teams like Cincinnati, Eastern Washington and Wyoming. Larry Brown has transformed the program in the short time he’s been there.
It’s really hard to put a case together why UCLA deserves to be in the tournament field. Their non-conference schedule was atrocious and their only win against a ranked opponent all season was against Utah. Also, let’s not forget that the Bruins lost to Kentucky by 39 points. Steve Alford lost a lot of talent to the NBA Draft and they just didn’t do enough to justify a spot this year. Colorado State should be in their place.
SMU is efficient with the ball while waiting for the best shot to take. UCLA doesn’t have that kind of ball movement. SMU’s Nic Moore is a dynamic guard that is surrounded by two large oak trees (Markus Kennedy and Yanick Moreira). UCLA won’t be able to stop them.
Prediction: #6 SMU Mustangs
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.