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Can the UCLA Bruins get past the Tulsa Golden Hurricane?

"UCLA Head Coach ready to lead the Bruins to the 3rd Round on the NCAA Tournament"
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The fourth-seeded (26-8) UCLA Bruins are in San Diego to take on the 13th seeded (21-12) Tulsa Golden Hurricane. A two-hour road trip for UCLA might as well be called a home game for Bruins. 50 years ago today, Head Coach John Wooden led UCLA to its first NCAA title, beginning one of the most dominant dynasties in American Sports history.

Twenty years ago, 12th-seeded Tulsa upset fifth-seeded UCLA 112-102 in the first round and advanced to the regional semifinals before losing to eventual national champion Arkansas. In an interesting twist, you can make argument that this tournament game brings back memories of the 1980's with Tulsa Head Coach Danny Manning matching wits with the Bruins Head Coach Steve Alford.

Alford led the Indiana Hoosiers to the NCAA title in 1987. Manning led the Kansas Jayhawks to the title in 1988. It is impressive that Coach Danny Manning has led the Golden Hurricane to the NCAA Tournament in his second season. Tulsa started their season 0-4 and 1-6, including back-to-back losses to Creighton and Wichita State.

The Golden Hurricane turned their season around by pulling off an 11-game win streak and finishing strong by winning 17 of 20 games that included winning the Conference USA title game. Steve Alford has restored hope in the UCLA basketball program. The Bruins are playing well and riding a wave of momentum after winning the Pac 12 Tournament title game.

The question is Can the Bruins turn a Pac 12 into a deep NCAA Tournament run? The Bruins only have two tournament wins since 2009, one of the main reasons former Head Coach Ben Howland is no longer on the sidelines in Westwood. Steve Alford was brought in turn things around.

Alford has been one and done three times in his six tournament appearances as a Division I coach. Including last year when his third-seeded New Mexico Lobo's were upset by 14th seeded Harvard. Both teams run a three-guard line up although UCLA has a size advantage in this game with 6-10 twins David & Travis Wear, 6-9 Kyle Anderson.

The Golden Hurricane has a frontcourt of 6-9, 247-pound D'Andre Wright and 6-7 Rashad Smith. Tulsa has to find a way to slow down UCLA's offense. The Bruins ranked 12th in the country in points per game (81.8) and top 10 in assists (fifth) and rebounds (10th). UCLA Sophomore Kyle Anderson is averaging nearly a triple-double posting 14.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game.

The key to this game will be the transition game, Tulsa's transition defense versus UCLA's transition offense. Tulsa is allowing just 7.9 transition points per game over its last 11 games. UCLA has one of the best transition offenses in the country, ranking 8th with 19.4 transition points per game.



Bruins: Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams, Norman Powell, Travis Wear, David Wear

Golden Hurricane: James Woodard, Tim Peete, Shaquille Harrison, D'Andre Wright, Rashad Smith

Tip-Off: 6:57 PM PST


Prediction: UCLA 78 – Tulsa 70

Jeff Little is the host of "The Locker Room" a daily sports talk radio show based out of Los Angeles 6-8 pm PST Follow on twitter @JeffLittle32, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+

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