Did anyone pick UCLA to beat Minnesota?

No. 11 Minnesota over No. 6 UCLA might be the most popular upset pick in the whole NCAA field. The Gophers may have lost 11 of their last 16 games, but the Bruins haven’t inspired much national confidence after falling to Oregon without Jordan Adams.

Here’s a quick predictions round-up.

ESPN: Myron Medcalf sips the Pac-12 haterade as he picks against all five teams in the first round. I like at least 12-seeded Oregon to take down Oklahoma State, but this was taken from a list of 10 “bold predictions.” The conference isn’t stellar, it was worse last year and still had Colorado in the round of 32.

Sports Illustrated: Pete Thamel takes the Gophers as one of his five upset picks. He writes: “Talented Minnesota, which has underachieved this year, has been battle tested by the Big Ten and won’t be intimidated by UCLA’s talent.”

ESPN’s Giant Killers: The metrics-based forecast gives Minnesota an impressive 74 percent chance to pull the upset.

Nate Silver: The political prediction king gives UCLA a 38.1 percent chance at beating Minnesota. The Bruins also have a 5.9 percent chance at making the Sweet Sixteen, 2.4 percent at the Elite Eight, and 0.6 percent at the Final Four.

SportsOnEarth: Matt Brown starts off by mentioning Tubby Smith’s hot seat and Minnesota’s lackluster second half, but thinks even less of their opponent. “Here the Gophers have a chance to pull an upset over an unspectacular UCLA from the unspectacular Pac-12, and for Minnesota to win and Tubby to keep going really wouldn’t be much of an upset at all.”

USA Today: “UCLA gets Minnesota, which was utterly underwhelming in the final two months of the season. Expect the Bruins to scoot along.” Finally, some love.

CBS Sports: Of the ten analysts who filled out entire NCAA brackets, five picked UCLA to beat Minnesota. The quintet includes Wally Szczerbiak, the lone soul to pick Gonzaga as national champion.

Grantland: Shane Ryan ranks every team in the field in lieu of head-to-head picks, and has UCLA at No. 29 overall. However, he also categorizes the Bruins as the sole “Victim of the Cruel Cosmos” due to Jordan Adams’ broken ankle. His description of Minnesota, which he slots at No. 35: “Weakness: Tubby Smith being allowed to coach.”

Las Vegas also has the Gophers as a slight favorite over UCLA. No. 9 Missouri, which plays No. 8 Colorado State, was the only other lower-seeded team to open with the advantage. I’m not inclined to pick the Bruins either, but they might be inspired from all this talk.

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  • benzo

    We’re way more likely to come out inspired with the odds against us.

    • Bruwins

      I wouldn’t count on it. Every year the first week of NCAA Tournament is the hardest for us because it also falls on our final exams week. Though some of these guys won’t be around next season, BH won’t allow the team to jeopardize the entire season with ineligible players. But since we’re playing on Friday, they may finish their exams by Wednesday; otherwise they’ll be taking their exams in the hotel conference room just like before.

    • Reformed Droog

      I tend to think that this locker room material isn’t all that useful to this group of Bruins. I don’t get that sense of extreme passion that we’ve seen in the recent past from Afflalo, Collison, Mata, Shipp, et al.

      I mean, how many “must win” games did we have this season where the team came out ridiculously flat? The past few games have been slightly better, but we found a way to dig a few tough wins. I believe that this is where Adams’ loss will be most felt as we clearly don’t have the depth for a late push without him.

      Having said that, if this team can manage to get it going in the first half, they’re good enough to play into next week. If we give up a double-digit lead before half, though, we’re going to make a lot of asshat sports reporters look smart…

      (No offense, Jack. Hehe.)

  • miker%buffspec.com

    Gosh, do you think we should bother playing the game?
    off topic, have they started talking about your replacement yet?
    MichaelRyerson

  • Marc

    I think UCLA can beat Minnesota. Superior athleticism in several positions; though the Wears NEED to learn how to box out and put there body on guys down low.

    Florida looks pretty darn good, though. I’ve watched a couple if their games on TV this season and they run a good offense and have a pretty stellar defense. That game could be a blowout.

    • http://twitter.com/FatBooster Joe Blow

      GomGators

    • Brian

      I don’t think superior athletes always beat inferior athletes. But, I am curious to which UCLA players are superior athletically?

      Rodney Williams will be the most athletic player on the court. I am NOT saying he will be the best player, but he will be the most athletic. Go to youtube, and watch some of his highlights. And, Trevor Mbakwe is a heck of an athlete himself.

  • Mark

    I’m sure this team will come out flat. You guys remember a few years ago when all the Lakers, including Phil Jackson, were complaining about playing on Christmas? Well, they came out and laid a huge egg against whatever team LeBron was on then.

    I see the same attitude shaping up here. It’s unfathomable that Ucla’s head coach would be so vocal about the crummy placement (which isn’t that bad after all). A real coach would say, “We’ll play anyone, anywhere, and we’ll be ready for it.” But we all know Howland is a scaredy cat. That’s why our non-conference schedule is usually so pathetic. Howland doesn’t have the guts to schedule a home-and-home with quality teams. We should play Gonzaga and Sdsu every year. I guarantee they’d be up for it.

  • Rob M

    Go Bruins!