3. March Madness teams that will bust brackets – UCLA Bruins
There is a lot to like on paper when it comes to UCLA. Mick Cronin’s team returned pretty much everyone from last season’s Final Four team and added Rutgers transfer Myles Johnson to their interior, leading to a No. 2 ranking in the preseason polls.
The Bruins then got off to a hot start before getting blown out by Gonzaga in Las Vegas, went on an extended COVID pause in December, beat Arizona at home, and then proceeded to slide down the polls by dropping three out of four in February. It looked like UCLA righted the ship down the stretch and gave Arizona everything they could handle in the Pac-12 title game before losing late, teasing everyone with the Final Four upside we saw in the preseason.
The scary thing about trying to project UCLA’s March Madness path is that the Bruins can seemingly lose focus at any moment, which could lead to them getting picked off by an inferior opponent over the course of 40 minutes. The Bruins also have a potentially tough Round of 32 draw against a scary Saint Mary’s team that loves to bog down the pace and plays rugged defense, a formula they used to knock off Gonzaga in the regular-season finale.
The talent level and the fact that UCLA is in the weakest region makes them a tempting Final Four pick if you’re looking to go against the chalk. The Bruins’ overall performance makes it more likely they get bounced early and ruin your bracket if you try that approach.