Who: 4 UCLA (26-8) vs. 13 Tulsa (21-12)
When: Friday 6:57 PM PT
Where: South Region, San Diego
The Bruins are fresh off a powerful statement win over Arizona in the Pac-12 Tournament final and now face off with the tournament champion from one of the best mid-major conferences in Tulsa who are capable of pulling off a big upset in the first round. The Bruins are ultra-talented, but young and coached by a coach known for struggling in the tournament, so this has the potential to be more interesting that it appears it would be on paper.
Also, if you are a Pac-12 fan, you will probably get a good read from this game on which UCLA team is going to show up in the NCAA Tournament.
Who are the stars?
F Kyle Anderson 6'9 230 So. UCLA
One of the most-interesting players in the country, Anderson has the body of a power forward and the skills of a guard, making him a soon-to-be lottery pick. Anderson can score, rebound, pass and is deadly from three range, shooting 48 perecent.
G James Woodard 6‘3 185 So. Tulsa
The hot-shooting guard came on late in the season and was red hot in the Conference USA Tournament, getting voted the tournament's most valuable player while scoring 70 points in just three games. He is especially dangerous from behind the three-point line and went 10-17 from behind the stripe in his conference tournament.
G Jordan Adams 6'5 220 So. UCLA
One of the most powerful guards in the nation is a scoring machine that plays with an NBA style that will soon make him a lottery pick. Adams is fresh off essentially hitting the game-winning shot of the Pac-12 Tournament.
Can Tulsa handle UCLA's size and keep them off the boards?
The Bruins are one of the best rebounding teams in the country and it bails them out a lot when they aren't hitting shots and prevents smaller teams from keeping them from scoring. The Bruins can throw a ton of size up front at Tulsa, including Anderson and Adams, who are excellent rebounders, and if they can't keep them off the offensive glass, the Bruins could run away from them with second-chance points.
Can Tulsa stop Adams and Anderson?
As much as it is fun to get into the nuts and bolts of the match-ups that make March pure madness in college basketball, this one will probably come down to UCLA's two star sophomores. If Adams and Anderson play as well as they can, it might be impossible for Tulsa to compete.
You're a Pac-12 fan, why do you want UCLA to win?
The Bruins are probably the only team from the Pac-12 other than Arizona that has a real shot at getting to the Sweet 16.
The Bruins are going to come out in-tune behind Adams and Anderson and will unleash their depth of size at Tulsa, dominating them on the boards and building a cushion quickly. Tulsa will shoot well from the outside and keep themselves within realistic striking distance, but will never be able to get it to a game that truly feels like it is danger of the Bruins losing.
UCLA 88 Tulsa 74