How is it possible that the UCLA Bruins are ranked third nationally while receiving the No. 3 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament? As luck would have it, the only losses suffered this season by the Bruins have come in conference play, and that's why they are where they are. But it's not a bad place to be, as UCLA season still earned them an opening-round bye in the league tourney. The Bruins will play in the last quarterfinal of the day on Thursday, against the winner of Wednesday's night game between the Southern California Trojans and the Washington Huskies.
Regular season stats: 91.3 points per game scoring (1st of 351 NCAA Division I schools), 75.0 points per game allowed (247th of 351)
Conference record: 15-3 (3rd place)
Overall record: 28-3, .903 winning percentage (2nd of 351)
Home record: 16-1
Road record: 8-2
Best win: The Bruins went into Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY, and knocked off the No. 1 team in the nation at the time on December 3. It doesn't get any better than that, literally. The 97-92 win helped propel UCLA to a 13-0 non-conference record and established the Bruins as a national title favorite. UCLA shot 53 percent from the floor in the famed basketball stadium, and in the process reminded the nation that the Pac-12 knows how to play ball.
Worst loss: It seems unfair to call this the "worst" loss, but the Bruins only lost three times this year. But dropping a game at home to Arizona on January 21 was very disappointing to UCLA, as it then dropped its next game, too (on the road at USC). In the 96-85 loss, the Bruins made just 45 percent of their shots while the Wildcats made 50 percent of their attempts. That's all it took to ruin a perfect record at Pauley Pavilion this year for UCLA.
Best Player: Freshman point guard Lonzo Ball is getting mad raves across the country for his excellent play. He is shooting 55.5 percent from the floor this season, including a ridiculous 71.6 percent from two-point range. Toss in his passing ability (7.8 assists per game) and his defense (2.0 steals per game), and you start to realize why Ball is well praised by almost every college basketball expert. He was just named conference Freshman of the Year on Monday afternoon, too.
Pac-12 Tournament outlook: The only teams that have beaten the Bruins are all lined up for them in the Pac-12 Tournament this week. Assuming the Trojans win on Wednesday, UCLA would face them on Thursday. With a win there, the Bruins likely would play the Wildcats on Friday night in the semifinals. Win that, and the Oregon Ducks are a potential opponent on Saturday night in the Pac-12 Championship Game. UCLA can get all the revenge it needs in one fell swoop this week in Las Vegas. Will it happen? For the nation's top scoring team, we don't see why not.
Tickets to Session 4, featuring the Arizona Wildcats and the UCLA Bruins on Thursday night, can be purchased here.