It’s official. UCLA will play Duke on Dec. 19 at Madison Square Garden.
Exciting as the blue-blooded matchup may be, it’s not one that bodes well for Steve Alford six weeks into his first UCLA season.
The Blue Devils lost three starters (and 47.5 ppg) from last season’s Elite Eight squad, but return promising guards Rasheed Sulaimon and Quinn Cook. They also landed a top-five recruiting class that features elite wing Jabari Parker, who landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated before Andrew Wiggins seized the media’s attention.
Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood, who averaged 10.3 points as a freshman in 2011-12, will also be eligible.
UCLA has talent too, but still lacks a go-to point guard like Duke has in Cook.
Playing at MSG won’t help the Bruins either. Roundtrip tickets from LAX to JFK start at around $420, while flights from Raleigh cost about half that. Duke fans can also manage an eight-hour road trip up the coast with relative ease.
Other notable nonconference games are at Missouri on Dec. 7, and at home against Alabama on Dec. 28. The two games signal the end and beginning of home-and-home series, respectively.
UCLA will only meet the Arizona and Washington schools once in conference play.
You can see the full schedule after the jump, with away games bolded. Continue reading