As usual this time of year, the entire nation huddles around the warm glow of the computer monitor and picks whichever ACC, Big Ten, Big East, Big 12 or SEC team they think will win the tournament. As usual, there is little love for the “Best Coast.”
Sure, Gonzaga has finally made it to a #1 seed, but not without every talking head on ESPN saying how someone else had more top 20 wins, better RPI or some other nonsense. But as we all know, the ultimate show will be played out on the court rather than a computer. And don’t discount the Zags…or the Lobos…or even the Runnin’ Rebels or the Gaels or the Ducks or the Wildcats or the Rams. They all have solid teams and are capable of pulling off an early shocker. And the Zags and the Lobos have what it takes to make a deep run.
Which brings me to my school of choice…the UCLA Bruins. Yes, UCLA has won more NCAA titles than the Big Ten (10), Big East (10), and the Big 12 (5) and just as many as the SEC (11) and one less than the ACC (12). When it comes to NCAA titles, UCLA is its’ own conference (and don’t tell anyone, but the Pac 12 has won 15 NCAA titles). This year, the powers that be at the NCAA have determined that UCLA has no chance because UCLA lost its’ 2nd leading scorer, or does not have cool enough uniforms, or it does not play in the always underwhelming Big Ten or often overrated ACC…who knows. All I know is that this inconsistent Bruin lineup has the capacity to give anyone fits and the ability to beat Minnesota…at least. Oh well…
The bottom line is that we do play basketball west of the rockies…and we play it pretty well. Don’t count us out.
And to leave you with one last bit of trivia…the last person to hit a shot in UCLA’s old Pauley Pavillion was a little known walk-on named Tyler Trapani. It wouldn’t have been a big deal except for the fact that the little used guard (who is 6 feet tall standing on his tippie-toes) just happens to be the grandson of the greatest college basketball coach of all time…the legendary John Wooden. There is still some magic left in UCLA basketball.