6. SMU (27-6, 15-3/American)–He’s still got it. Even at 74 years old, the legendary Larry Brown has proven he can take a listless, nondescript, quite frankly random basketball program and carry it into relevance. The last time SMU made the NCAA Tournament, your boy here was six years old and Chris Webber and the Fab Five were leading Michigan. (It was 1993).
Yet here they are, all these years later, with a school-record 27 wins and a 6-seed in the NCAA Tournament. But it’s not all about Larry Brown. His boys can play too, and that starts with junior point guard Nic Moore, who was named the American Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year. Moore averaged 14.2 points and 5.2 assists this season for the AAC regular season and tournament champion Mustangs.
Junior forward Markus Kennedy is rugged and tough inside, and averages 11.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Three of the Mustangs’ six losses this season came while Kennedy was on the sidelines, as he was ruled academically ineligible for the first semester.
21st Assists per game (15.5)
22nd Field Goal Percentage (.479)
25th Points Allowed (59.8)
11. UCLA (20-13, 11-7/Pac-12)–Let’s start this preview off by saying that UCLA had one of the worst resumes of an NCAA Tournament team in the past 20 years. The Bruins were 4-9 against NCAA Tournament teams (and two of those wins came over Coastal Carolina and UAB). They lost games to Alabama, Colorado, California, Oregon State and Arizona State. They were blasted 71-39, at Utah, and lost 83-44 to Kentucky, a game in which they scored seven–SEVEN–points in the first half (they trailed 41-7).
If this team had “Oregon State” across its jerseys and not “UCLA,” it’d be in the NIT.
And with all that being said, they’ll probably win the Round of 64 game against SMU, just because “Nobody Believed in Us!” (copyright, Bill Simmons).
If UCLA is going to advance, it’s going to need top scorer Norman Powell (16.4 ppg), as well as coach’s kid and sharpshooter Bryce Alford (15.1 ppg) to play well.