Howland using bulletin-board material

When UCLA returned to the court following its stinging loss in the Pac-12 title game last week, it found something waiting for them.

After Las Vegas pegged the Bruins as one of two higher-seeded teams to lose in NCAA tournament’s round of 64, coach Ben Howland decided to post up predictions of Friday’s matchup against No. 11-seed Minnesota. Continue reading

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Schilling picks Michigan State

Three-star forward Gavin Schilling has decided to attend Michigan State, he announced on Twitter today, leaving the UCLA out in the cold along with finalists Minnesota and Villanova.

The 6-foot-9, 205-pound recruit became the first member of the Spartans’ 2013 class in a decision that leaves the Bruins still wanting for frontcourt depth. UCLA, the Pac-12′s worst rebounding team this season, has three guards who committed during the early signing period.

Schilling, whose Findlay Prep teammate Allerik Freeman is already signed to UCLA, watched the Bruins Pac-12 semifinal win over Arizona. The 66-64 victory wasn’t enough to sway the 17-year-old, who lived in Chicago, France and Germany before relocating to Henderson, Nev. His mother still lives in Chicago.

His head coach at Findlay, Todd Simon, grew up 30 miles north of Lansing, Mich.

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Obama picks Gophers over Bruins

President Barack Obama unveiled his March Madness bracket this morning with ESPN’s Andy Katz, and joined the crowd when it came to the UCLA-Minnesota first-round game.

“UCLA lost a key player (in Jordan Adams),” he said. “Minnesota’s been playing tough. I think Tubby Smith’s team’s gonna do pretty well.”

Obama only picked one national champion correctly (UNC, 2009) in his first term, and his 2012 bracket was in the 63.6th percentile of ESPN users. This year, he picked Indiana to beat fellow No. 1-seed Louisville in the title game, with No. 3 Florida and No. 2 Ohio State filling out the rest of his Final Four.

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Weekly Q&A — 3/18/13 Answers

Q: It seems like it is 80/20 that Tony Parker leaves after this season … With our lack of size why isn’t there a big man being recruited heavily? Is Powell a transfer risk?

A: Findlay Prep’s 6-foot-9 forward Gavin Schilling announces his decision tomorrow between UCLA, Minnesota, Villanova and Michigan State. Not sure about Norman Powell, but I’d lean no for now. He’s made references to playing next season, but maybe that changes if there’s a new coach and/or he starts getting beat out in practice by new commits. Larry Drew II compared how Powell looked in summer workouts to Russell Westbrook. It’s hyperbolic, but still gives you a sense of his athleticism.

Q: Is Ben Howland out with a first- or second-round loss? Would Billy Donovan be interested in being our coach? UCLA had attempted to get Mark Few a while back. Why is his name not popping up again? Continue reading

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Gavin Schilling announces Wednesday

Three-star forward Gavin Schilling is deciding between Minnesota, Villanova, Michigan State and UCLA, and will announce Wednesdy at 11:15 a.m. on Twitter. The 6-foot-9 recruit watched the Bruins’ win over Arizona in the Pac-12 semifinals, and his Findlay Prep teammate Allerik Freeman is already signed to UCLA.

UPDATE: Schilling said he will announce at 12:30 p.m. instead.

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UCLA women earn No. 3 NCAA seed

The UCLA women’s basketball team earned a No. 3 seed Monday afternoon in the Oklahoma City Region, and will open the NCAA tournament against No. 14 Stetson on Saturday at 10:40 a.m. It’s tied for the highest seed in program history, and has the Bruins — who missed March Madness last year — opening competition with a neutral site in Columbus, Ohio.

UCLA (25-7) should handle the Hatters (24-8) easily, and could meet six-seed Oklahoma after that. In November, the still-unranked Bruins pulled off an 86-80 road upset of the Sooners — then ranked No. 11 in the country. Guard Thea Lemberger, who sparked UCLA with 18 points in that game, is cleared to play after injuring her elbow over two weeks ago.

Full story here, as well as some photos from the Pavilion Club watch party.

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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. Continue reading

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No. 11 Minnesota: First look

No. 6 UCLA (25-9) vs. No. 11 Minnesota (20-12)
Tipoff:
6:57 p.m. PT, Frank Erwin Center (University of Texas at Austin)
TV: truTV

Conference play: The Golden Gophers opened the season 15-1 and 3-0 in the Big Ten, but have lost 11 of their 16 games since. Minnesota finished in a three-way tie for seventh in the conference alongside Illinois, a seven-seed, and Purdue, which did not make the field of 68. The Gophers lost in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, falling 51-49 to the Illini.

Coach: Tubby Smith is one of the most well-known coaches in college basketball, but hasn’t replicated the success he had at Kentucky. He began his career in Lexington with an NCAA title in 1998, and reached three Elite Eights and two Sweet Sixteens before resigning in 2007 due to public pressure and dissatisfaction.

Minnesota will be making its third NCAA appearance in six years under Smith, and are looking for their first victory after two double-digit losses in the first round. Continue reading

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