UCLA vs. St. Bonaventure

Abbie Parr  Getty Images

Abbie Parr Getty Images

The UCLA Bruins have advanced to and been eliminated in the Sweet Sixteen three times in the last four seasons.

UCLA gained its footing after its early challenges and got in position for the NCAA Tournament - though just barely - by closing with eight wins in 12 games. The Wildcats then turned around and beat the Bonnies in the conference tournament by 12. St. Bonaventure beating UCLA wouldn't be the biggest upset we've ever seen by any means, but it can happen simply on the fact that they're the kind of team that could get overlooked. Freshman Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands have stepped in and been major factors to getting the Bruins to a fourth Dance in five years under Steve Alford.

The Bruins open the tournament in Dayton today at the bottom of the bracket looking up, an unexpected development for a team that started the season with an global controversy and ended it with another spot in the tournament - albeit one of the least desirable. Junior guard Aaron Holiday is an All-Pac-12 selection who averages a conference-best 20.3 points per game.

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The Bruins ended the season 24-7, 14-4, so it was not a question of whether they were making the tournament, but where they would be placed. "But I think we feel really confident that we're able to play with anyone in the country, and that is really about preparation and process and taking things one game at a time". In 2011, VCU went from the First Four to the Final Four. The Bruins have not won a national title since the 1995 season. Finals will begin next Monday when the team would be preparing for a East Region semifinal if it wins its next three games. UCLA has a little more experience, and a little more talent.

St. Bonaventure small forward Courtney Stockard will be a "game-time decision" for Tuesday's NCAA Tournament First Four game against UCLA, coach Mark Schmidt said Monday. After slip-ups at the beginning of conference play, the team clearly showed that they turned a corner when they won 13 consecutive games in conference play. Their biggest outright win from their schedule, in my opinion, was their win over Buffalo while they also split two games they played against Rhode Island, winning one in which Rhode Island was ranked in the top 25. Bet the Bruins -3 over the Bonnies on Tuesday.

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