University of California, Los Angeles (Public – Research Institution)
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Current Record: 17-13 (10-7 in Pac-12 Conference)
RPI: 112 SOS: 91
Coach: Ben Howland (9th year)
First Thought: UCLA has recently come under scrutiny from the Sports Illustrated article that states the program is far from what John Wooden had it at. Where players are partying, doing drugs, and lacking discipline. Ben Howland is looking for wins because whether he deserves to be on the hot seat or not, there is a rising mutiny amongst the fan base.
This is debatably an even bigger game for the Huskies for placement into the NCAA tournament and to clinch the outright Pac-12 title. However, UCLA gave them a run for their money last time and Josh Smith put up an impressive 24 points and 9 rebounds on the stat sheet. The Bruins lost 71-69.
Best Win: 65-58 over Arizona (RPI 73)
Worst Loss: 58-69 to Loyola Marymount (RPI 120)
Last Game: 78-46 over Washington State (RPI 185)
Synopsis: This is the final game of the season for both the Bruins and the Huskies and neither team will roll over for the other. It will be a battle and Washington tends to not matchup well against the Bruins. However, the Huskies are the more talented team on paper and were able to beat them at home. However, they couldn’t contain Josh Smith. If Smith is in better shape this time around, he will be able to do even more damage. Unless Romar has found an answer to what Smith did against UW last time around.
Ben Howland is trying to fight off any rumors of losing his job. Romar is trying to clinch the Pac-12 regular season title alone for the first time in his tenure. If they lose, however, the Huskies will at least share the title with California (if Cal wins later this week).
My analysis: The Bruins have a handful of highly talented players.
Lazeric Jones is the best player (in terms of stats) on the court for the Bruins, he is probably also the most valuable player. He is averaging 13.1 points a game. He also is shooting 40% from deep, with 42 made 3-pointers this season. He averages 3.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.7 steals a game. He makes his mark all over the court out of the point guard position.
Travis Wear is one of the two Wear twins on the UCLA basketball team. He averages 11.4 points a game. He knows how to score and finds ways to do it. He also averages 5.7 rebounds a game.
David Wear is the other of the two Wear twins and he can be just as deadly. He averages 10.6 points a game. He brings down about 6 rebounds a game.
Josh Smith is the biggest guy on a team that is full of big men. He is 6-10, 305 pounds and knows how to take up the key. He is a complete mismatch for the Huskies and the best matchup they had against him last time was Shawn Kemp Jr. but Kemp is still young and learning to take on guys bigger than him. Aziz N’Diaye wasn’t able to handle him and ended up collecting 4 fouls and found time on the bench because of it.
Smith averages 10.2 points and 5.1 rebounds a game.
Tyler Lamb is another player that can score at a high level. He logs in at almost 31 minutes a game and that alone shows the value he is to the team and Coach Howland. He averages 9.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.9 assists.
Jerime Anderson is very similar in production to Lamb, he averages around 8.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 4.3 assists a game.
My Prediction: UW 76 UCLA 69
This game comes down to how easily they can take Josh Smith out of the game plan. If he is unable to produce, the Huskies can pull away from the Bruins. It may be an up and down game but in the end Washington will pull out the win and clinch the Pac-12 regular season title (solo).