The UCLA Bruins finally proved to their critics that they belong in the NCAA tournament with wins over SMU and UAB. Many thought that the Bruins didn’t deserve a place in this tournament after going just 11-7 in the PAC 12 and 22-13 in the regular season. But as it turns out, the tournament committee obviously knew something that most of us didn’t and realized that UCLA could compete at the highest level this year.
A huge part of that reason is their point guard and coaches son, Bryce Alford. The sophomore is averaging 15.6 points per game and 4.9 assists per game, being one of the driving forces of UCLA’s offense. While his outside shooting can be kind of inconsistent, he has been hot early in the tournament averaging just under 25 points thus far. And when you consider that UCLA still has Tony Parker to carry a bit of the load next to Alford, the Bruins may be peaking at just the right time.
However, the Bruins are facing a Gonzaga team that they have lost to previously this season. Kyle Wiltjer has just too much of a post game and outside shooting range for anyone on UCLA to really shut him down. Not to mention that Gonzaga has its own stud of a point guard in Kevin Pangos. The matchup between Pangos and Alford will be intriguing, but I imagine UCLA packing their bags to head home to California shortly after this game concludes.
Next: NC State