October is here, and that means we are just weeks away from real, live basketball games. In order to prepare you for the first two months of the season, we’re going to break down all 12 non-conference slates over the next couple of weeks. Up next; the Los Angeles schools.
Teams are listed in order of which they will be played. Last season’s RPI in parenthesis. Potential opponents (one round in advance) are italicized. All times listed are Pacific.
Cream of the Crop: vs. Duke (#1) in New York City, at Missouri (#36)
Any time you’ve got an exhibition game against Duke in Madison Square Garden the week before Christmas on ESPN, you’ve got a real nice start to your schedule. Sure, the name of the event — the Carquest Auto Parts Classic — could use some work, but this is a game that will draw in fans, should help both teams in terms of building a resume, and will be a great barometer for where both squads stand in advance of conference play. Plus, Jabari Parker vs. Kyle Anderson? Um, yeah. We’ll want to watch that. Throw in the Bruins’ return trip to Missouri to reprise last year’s classic in Pauley Pavilion and, even though the Tigers aren’t as highly regarded this season, that’s a nice pair of games at the top of the schedule there. The problem is, this pair needs some company; but instead, the rest of the UCLA schedule is littered with more than a couple yawners.
Kyle Anderson And The Bruins Will Get A Mid-December Showcase Game Against Duke. (AP)
Solid Names: vs. Nevada (#173) in Las Vegas, vs. Northwestern (#168) in Las Vegas, vs. Weber State (#85), vs. Alabama (#60)
Maybe there’s some bad luck mixed in here. Nevada is normally a pretty good program, but they’re in the midst of a downswing. Northwestern has been on the verge of decent recently, but with new head coach Chris Collins now in town, the Wildcats are in the midst of a rebuilding (well, honestly, we could probably drop the “re-“) phase. And Alabama, a stout defensive team since Anthony Grant took over, will probably again lack offensive punch, with Trevor Lacey bolting from the program. That leaves Weber State, a team that has developed into a nice Big Sky program, but one who is by no means a match for the power of a UCLA program. Really, of this group, it is Weber State with the best chance to make the NCAA Tournament this season. But in the long haul, while none of these games will really kill UCLA’s RPI numbers, not a one of these is expected to be the type of win that the Bruins can point to on Selection Sunday in support of a favorable seed.
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