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Gonzaga Will Leave Bruins in Ruins

April 3rd, 2021 · 1 Comment · Basketball, UCLA, USC

Did anyone else stay up late to watch UCLA come through with another upset in the NCAA Tournament? Remember? Four days ago? (It ended at 6:16 a.m where I live and yes, I would like to be congratulated for that.)

It was nervous time, but it also was clutch time as the Bruins came through with a 51-49 victory over Michigan, the top seed in the East bracket.

That gave UCLA a five-game March Madness playoffs winning streak, one that began with an overtime upset of Michigan State in the First Four.

Back before that victory over Michigan State, UCLA partisans probably would have said they would be happy with a single tournament victory — given that the Bruins carried a four-game losing streak and 17-9 record into the postseason.

Clearly, they have done much more, eliminating BYU, Abilene Christian, Alabama and Michigan, the top seed in their bracket.

It makes a senior citizen recall the UCLA glory days of John Wooden, the coach who led the Bruins to 10 NCAA titles from 1963 to 1975. (They added one more, over Arkansas, in 1995, with the O’Bannon brothers leading the way.)

So, now they are in the Final Four, and today will take on Gonzaga in the second semifinal.

Unfortunately, Gonzaga is not living in the past, when it was the prototypical plucky little mid-major program.

These guys are monsters and we can expect, sadly, that they will destroy the Bruins today.

The casinos have Gonzaga as a 14.5-point favorite, versus the Bruins. Which sounds about right, especially if you happened to see the Zags destroy USC in the quarterfinals. (Yes, USC. The football school that apparently also has a decent hoops program.)

UCLA has some talent. You don’t beat Michigan and Alabama without some guys. Such as Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jacquez and the point guard Tyger Campbell, who may have the greatest name in this year’s tournament.

But that will not be enough, against Gonzaga. All you need to know is that guys named Timme and Suggs will lead the Spokane-based team, which goes about 10 deep in first-tier players.

They also are disciplined and smart.

And healthy. UCLA lost Chris Smith, their best returning player, to a knee injury, and Juzang, their designated scorer the past month, has a wonky ankle that may give out at any moment.

It will not be close. A “victory” for the Bruins would be a final score less lopsided than the one Gonzaga hung on the Trojans — 82-68.

About the only thing the Bruins have going for them is that Gonzaga is now two games shy of the first perfect season since Indiana in 1975-76, and maybe a bit of pressure is building up in some brains. So close! Expectations are crazy high!

And UCLA ought to be able to play with complete freedom: Few of us believe they can win, or even make it a close game.

The Bruins have done enough to remind college basketball that they still matter, and the ruins? That will be a one-night thing. The rebuild under coach Mick Cronin will continue next season.


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Doug // Apr 3, 2021 at 7:17 PM

    Fantastic game. UCLA was terrific and Gonzaga showed why they are undefeated. A miracle shot to win it in overtime. Wow! Can’t wait to watch the final between Gonzaga and Baylor.

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