NCAA Tournament, South Region
Round of 64: No. 4 UCLA (26-8) vs. No. 13 Tulsa (21-12)
When: Friday, 6:57 p.m. PT, Viejas Arena (San Diego State)
TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE
RPI/Pomeroy ranking: 73 / 68
Best wins: A 69-60 victory over Louisiana Tech (27-7) to seize the C-USA tournament on Saturday, as well as wins over Middle Tennessee State (24-9) on Friday and in January. The Bulldogs are a No. 3 seed in the NIT, while the Blue Raiders not to accept a potential invite from the CBI or CIT.
Worst losses: Gave TCU two of its nine wins this season, suffering a 72-65 neutral-site loss on Nov. 27 followed by a 70-58 road loss a month later. The Horned Frogs ended their season on a 19-loss streak.
What ifs: Tulsa lost to Creighton and Oklahoma by 10 points each, teams that eventually earned No. 3 and No. 5 seeds. The Golden Hurricane also dropped an eight-point, neutral-site decision to Green Bay — which was snubbed by the selection committee despite a regular-season Horizon League championship and a marquee win over No. 1-seeded Virginia.
Key numbers: Tulsa ranks 28th in the country in defensive efficiency (96.0 points/100 possessions), but opponents have exploited one major hole: the charity stripe. The Golden Hurricane allows free throws at a higher rate than 304 other teams. UCLA generates free throws attempts slightly less often than the Division I average, but converts exceptionally well; the Bruins’ 74.9 percent shooting ranks 22nd in college basketball.
Steve Alford has been happy to let opponents chuck 3-pointers all season, and nothing about the Golden Hurricane’s roster should force him to reconsider. Tulsa’s 35.3 percent shooting from downtown ranks 224th, and star guard James Woodard (38.9%) is the only true remaining threat from beyond the arc. Freshman gunner Steve Repichowski (34.9%) fractured his left hand early this month, while senior Patrick Swilling Jr. (33.3%) is suspended and being investigated on a rape allegation. The Bruins could definitely sag off reserve forward Lew Evans, who is only 28-of-106 on the season.
According to kenpom.com, the Golden Hurricane’s effective height is 194th in the country. UCLA is 20th, and is one of eight Pac-12 teams to rank top-30 nationally. (The stat is the average height of the center and power forward, weighted by minutes played. It is explained further here.)
UCLA is a nine-point favorite according to Bovada.lv.
Tulsa starting lineup:
F – D’Andre Wright, So., 6-9, 247: 7.1 pts, 4.0 reb, 0.5 blk
F – Rashad Smith, So., 6-7, 206: 12.1 pts, 4.9 reb, 0.9 blk
G – James Woodard, So, 6-3, 183: 15.7 pts, 5.8 reb, 1.8 ast
G – Shaquille Harrison, So., 6-3, 175: 9.8 pts, 3.2 ast, 1.8 stl
G – Tim Peete, Sr., 6-4, 205: 5.2 pts, 3.3 reb, 1.1 stl
Key reserves –
G – Rashad Ray, So., 5-11, 170: 6.8 pts, 2.4 ast, 1.0 stl
F – Lew Evans, So., 6-8, 230: 5.4 pts, 4.1 reb, 0.6 ast
F – Brandon Swannegan, So., 6-8, 205: 4.1 pts, 3.0 reb, 1.5 blk