After its schedule peaked last weekend with undistinguished Texas A&M and Nebraska teams, do we really know how good No. 11 UCLA is? We’ll have a lot better idea after Saturday’s spike in the Bruins’ slate.
First of all, it’s not out of the question for a win to conceivably vault UCLA to No. 1 in the nation. Aside from who wins, simply watching Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf measure themselves against not one, not two, not three, but four other elite freshmen is a rare opportunity.
Wooden Legacy tournament MVP Lonzo Ball helped UCLA climb three more spots in the AP poll.
UCLA has climbed three spots in the AP poll each of the last two weeks, landing at No. 11 this week. The Bruins proved their freshmen can deliver in close games, but I’m most interested in the way they’ve won against opponents with contrasting strengths. For example, UCLA didn’t have a player who could matchup with Texas A&M preseason All-SEC center Tyler Davis. But the Bruins found ways not to get dominated in the paint or on the boards by a physically superior Aggies team.
UCLA still has plenty to prove, which is why I don’t have them ranked as high on my ballot, but it deserves credit for finding ways to beat every team on the schedule seven games into the season.
How I voted: 1. Kentucky
6. North Carolina
I was a late arrival to the Baylor party because I wasn’t convinced by the win over Oregon sans Dillon Brooks. But two more wins over ranked teams this week, including Louisville, and maybe Kansas better start watching its back in the Big 12. 9. St. Mary’s
The Bruins achieved their first two wins over power 5 opponents this week. While Texas A&M and Nebraska aren’t world beaters, UCLA handled its business and proved its freshmen can deliver in close games. Continue reading →
It’s not like they’re toppling the best teams in the country (Wait for it…UCLA plays at No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday!) but these are major conference opponents that pushed the Bruins to provide answers to some significant questions. Most notably, could freshmen Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf answer the bell in close games? The answer is an unequivocal yes. Continue reading →
Aaron Holiday and UCLA moved up three spots this week in the Associated Press poll
Here is the ballot I submitted for Week 3 of the Associated Press college basketball poll. I hit UCLA on the number this week, moving the Bruins up thee spots as they ascended to the highest-scoring team in the country.
How I voted: 1. Kentucky
The thought of giving Villanova my first-place vote certainly crossed my mind, but Kentucky’s dismantling of Michigan State was more impressive to me than Villanova’s much more narrow win over Purdue. 2. Villanova 3. Virginia 4. IndianaContinue reading →
It’s not an exaggeration to say Steve Alford helped himself more than any college basketball coach in the country with the one significant opportunity provided to him since the debacle that was last season.
The UCLA coach didn’t just pull in a good 2017 recruiting class over the last week, he landed the consensus No. 1 group in the nation (rivals, scout, espn and 247sports each ranked UCLA No. 1).
For the coach with 4/9 odds to return to his team next season, Alford just gave Dan Guerrero five good reasons not to let him go, chief among them 6-foot-8 Indianapolis guard Kris Wilkes, who Alford gushes about in the video above. It’s not uncommon for incoming players to be released from their letters of intent should the coach that signed them be fired. UCLA brought in a pair of five-star players, two four-star players and the lone three-star recruit is the first of Lonzo Ball’s two brothers bound for UCLA.