Monday, March 13, 2006

Interesting Match-ups For Bruins In Oakland

By Bruin Basketball Report

The NCAA tournament selection committee regularly places teams together in certain regions to create intriguing match-up possibilities.

In the Oakland Region, the UCLA Bruins have quite a number of interesting potential upcoming games:

No. 10 Alabama
Alabama coach Mark Gottfried was an assistant at UCLA for eight years including 1995 when the Bruins won the NCAA Championship. If Gottfried, or for that matter Lorenzo Romar, hadn’t left UCLA to pursue other jobs, Ben Howland might never have become the UCLA coach. Alabama needs to defeat Marquette in the first game to meet the winner of UCLA-Belmont on Saturday.

No.8 Arkansas
Since we’re discuissing the 1995 championship, UCLA defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks, led by Corliss Williamson, for the championship that year. The Razorbacks could face the Bruins in the Great 8 in Oakland, not likely, but just think about all those 1995 UCLA championship team flashbacks and interviews you’d see on the CBS telecast.

No. 7 Marquette
UCLA coach Ben Howland has a chance for some payback if UCLA meets Tom Crean and Marquette in the second round game at San Diego. The Golden Eagles beat Howland and his Pitt team in a 2003 Sweet 16 game.

No. 6 Indiana
Two storied programs facing off in the Sweet 16, UCLA vs. Indiana - you can’t get more old-school than this match-up. Of course, mercurial Bobby Knight is not longer at Indiana, but outgoing coach Mike Davis makes a good story.

No.5 Pittsburgh
Most people were guessing the NCAA selection committee would put Pitt and UCLA together in the same region somewhere. Most know the story, Ben Howland was head coach at Pitt and built a powerhouse before he left for his dream job at UCLA. His protégé, Jamie Dixon, is now head coach at Pitt. It would be Big East original-style vs. Big East west coast-style. In a contest between these two tough teams, the winner would likely be the team with the last player standing. In this part of the bracket, a Great 8 meeting between the two is a strong possibility.

No. 3 Gonzaga
A great match-up to decide the “Best in the West”. The Zags (26-3), led by Adam Morrison, feel disrespected, and believe they should have been a No.2 seed, if not a No.1 seed, in the region. Can Ben Howland’s defensive-minded Bruins stop national POY candidate Morrison? An epic Sweet 16 match-up is in the works.

No. 1 Memphis
The Memphis Tigers defeated UCLA at the NIT Tip-Off Classic way back in November, 88-80. The Tigers were up by 17 points at halftime, before Jordan Farmar single-handedly shot UCLA back into the game. The young Bruins have improved tremendously since November – especially the freshman. How much more have they improved? It would be interesting to find out.

But first things first, the No.2 seed UCLA Bruins take on the No.15 seed Belmont Bruins in a first round game on Thursday. A Bruins vs. Bruins Game Preview is coming on Wednesday.

Oakland Region

At Dallas, TX
No. 1 Memphis vs. No. 16 Oral Roberts
No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 9 Bucknell

At Auburn Hills, MI
No. 5 Pittsburgh vs. No. 12 Kent State
No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 13 Bradley

At Salt Lake City, UT
No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 14 Xavier
No. 6 Indiana vs. No. 11 San Diego State

At San Diego, CA
No. 7 Marquette vs. No. 10 Alabama
No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 15 Belmont



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