RTC Live: Wooden ClassicPosted by rtmsf on December 18th, 2010
Games #74-75. RTC Live heads to Anaheim for an interesting double-header of west coast powers.
RTC Live returns to Anaheim for the Wooden Classic, the 17th annual edition of this event, but the first without its legendary namesake, where a quartet of western teams make up a solid schedule. The matinee features Long Beach State and St. Mary’s, a couple of teams expected to at least challenge for their regular season conference titles, although both teams still have a lot to prove. The Gaels have posted an 8-2 record thus far, but have come up short in their two biggest tests of the season (against BYU and San Diego State) with their best win over St. John’s looking a little less impressive by the day. LBSU has again played a brutal schedule, at this point considered the toughest in the country by KenPom, but have only had middling success on their way to a 5-6 record, with a win over Iowa their best outcome balanced against losses at North Carolina, Utah State, Washington and at home against San Diego State. The Niners gave North Carolina a good run their last time out behind a career-high 31 from junior forward T.J. Robinson, and he could be in for an interesting matchup with SMC junior forward Rob Jones, who has led his team in scoring in each of the last four games, including two straight double-doubles. In the main event, UCLA faces #16 BYU in a good test for the Cougars. While Anaheim is just 40 miles from the UCLA campus, and the Bruins are certain to have more fans at the game than any of the other teams, UCLA fans just don’t travel well (especially on what is supposed to be a rainy weekend in the Southland), so this won’t be a de facto home game for Ben Howland’s squad. However, if UCLA can find some kind of way to slow BYU’s Jimmer Fredette (much easier said than done, but the bulk of this task will likely fall to Malcolm Lee, with plenty of other Bruin eyes keeping track of the All-American candidate at all times), they could cause matchup problems up front. While BYU does feature a string of big guys up front, UCLA’s frontline of Tyler Honeycutt, Reeves Nelson and Joshua Smith could give the Cougars trouble. BYU head coach Dave Rose will want to see his team get out in transition early and often, and it will be interesting to see Howland’s response, as he has claimed a desire to see his team up the tempo from recent years. But likely the best chance for the Bruins to keep this one close is to ugly things up and turn this into a rockfight. Should be an interesting day of basketball in Anaheim, and we’re hoping you’ll drop in and join the conversation, starting at 11:45am PST.