UCLA Men's Basketball 2013 NCAA Tournament Capsule

UCLA Bruins
Pac-12 (25-9, 13-5)

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Things got off to a rocky start for Coach Ben Howland and the UCLA Bruins. Star freshman recruit Shabazz Muhammad was ineligible to start the year and UCLA lost three games by December 1, including a loss at home to Cal Poly. Then things turned around. Muhammad was allowed to take the court (he technically came back in time for their November 19 game against Georgetown and was in the lineup for all three early season losses, but stick with the storyline here) and the Bruins went on to win 10 consecutive ballgames. They notched wins over Texas, Cal and #7 Missouri. After that, the team seemed to hit a wall…perhaps the dreaded freshmen wall? With three freshmen garnering major minutes (Muhammad, Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson), UCLA lost four of their next seven ballgames with only one quality win in the bunch: a win at #6 Arizona. No one is quite sure which UCLA team will show up in the postseason or which is a better representation of the team. There is quality evidence for either side.

Big Wins: 1/24 at Arizona (84-73), 3/02 Arizona (74-69), 3/09 at Washington (61-55)
Bad Losses: 11/25 Cal Poly (68-70), 1/30 USC (71-75), 3/06 at Washington State (61-73)
Coach: Ben Howland (10 seasons at UCLA)

Why They Can Surprise:
As the middle part of their season showed, the Bruins have talent. Shabazz Muhammad, the top player in the nation coming out of high school, is really good. He can score from all over: shoots well from the floor and from the line and is an effective long-range shooter as well. He is an okay rebounder and takes care of the basketball but, for the most part, his game is all about scoring. The rest of what it takes to win comes from his teammates. Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson, the “other” freshmen, each average more assists than turnovers and swipe away nearly two steals per ballgame apiece. However, Adams broke his foot in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals and has had surgery. Travis and David Wear collect rebounds and do the dirty work while their fellow North Carolina transfer, Larry Drew, is dishing out just a shade under eight assists per game while holding his turnovers in check. Even with the departures of Joshua Smith and Tyler Lamb, UCLA has all the pieces to go on a long tournament run, led by their freshman scoring machine.

Why They Can Disappoint:
Some of these streaks are alarming. Losing at home to a team like Cal Poly is never good and paired with a couple other losses in the span of two weeks might be signs of a breakdown. Once we think UCLA righted the ship, they go on another losing streak. There is no shame in losing to Oregon at home or Arizona State on the road or even Cal on the road. But adding all these and other losses together, when they come almost rapid fire, seems like either an effort problem from the Bruins or a coaching problem from Ben Howland. Also, the roster has not formed into what people were expecting. Sure, this team scores well, can share the basketball and shoot efficiently from the floor. But their only two inside players are castoffs from another D1 school that struggled even more than UCLA did this year. Their top rebounder is a slow-footed freshman guard. Their main veteran leadership comes from a transfer student who was such a mess at his last school that he just flat out left in the midst of a possible national championship season. And with the late injury to Adams, things have again changed dramatically in Westwood. It is hard to know what to expect from UCLA but it is easy to imagine a scenario where a worse team takes them down.

Probable Starters:
Larry Drew II, Senior, Guard, 7.6 ppg, 7.4 apg
Kyle Anderson, Freshman, Guard, 9.8 ppg, 3.5 apg, 8.6 rpg
Norman Powell, Sophomore, Guard, 5.9 ppg, 1.1 apg
Shabazz Muhammad, Freshman, Forward, 17.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Travis Wear, Junior, Forward, 11.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg

Key Roleplayers:
David Wear, Junior, Forward, 7.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.0 (26th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.6 (226, 11)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.8 (56, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.9 (132, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.9 (296, 11)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: n/a
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.0 (86, 5)
Rebound Margin: -1.8 (247, 12)
Assists Per Game: 16.7 (7, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.3 (35, 1)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
2011    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Michigan State
2011    NCAA    Round of 32 loss to Florida
2009    NCAA    Round of 64 win over VCU
2009    NCAA    Round of 32 loss to Villanova
2008    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Mississippi Valley State
2008    NCAA    Round of 32 win over Texas A&M
2008    NCAA    Regional Semifinal win over Western Kentucky
2008    NCAA     Regional Final win over Xavier
2008    NCAA    National Semifinal loss to Memphis
2007    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Weber State
2007    NCAA    Round of 32 win over Indiana
2007    NCAA    Regional Semifinal win over Pittsburgh
2007    NCAA     Regional Final win over Kansas
2007    NCAA    National Semifinal loss to Florida
2006    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Belmont
2006    NCAA    Round of 32 win over Alabama
2006    NCAA    Regional semifinal win over Gonzaga
2006    NCAA    Regional final win over Memphis
2006    NCAA    National semifinal win over LSU
2006    NCAA    National final loss to Florida

*all team stats through 3/10


See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules