UCLA makes its fifth trip to NCAA Tournament in six years and looks to win at least two games for the fourth straight time when it begins play against unsafe St. Bonaventure on Tuesday in the First Four at Dayton, Ohio - in a battle of 11th seeds to open the East Region. The victor faces Florida on Thursday. The Bruins compiled a 21-11 record and an 11-7 mark in Pac-12 play (tied, third place). They did manage to outrebound the Bonnies by 10, but turnovers ended up killing UCLA in this one. The 6-1 junior is also a strong distributor, ranking second in the conference with 5.8 assists per game. The Bonnies are one of the hottest teams in the country - they've won 13 of their past 14 games, and have a slew of impressive wins this season, including over Rhode Island, Davidson, Maryland, Vermont and at Syracuse - and even have familiarity playing at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio, in conference play.
UCLA enters the tournament on a peak, defeating USC before beating Stanford in a Pac-12 tournament quarterfinal and taking Arizona to overtime before losing. St. Bonaventure was a 2.5-point underdog according to the betting odds, making those who backed the Bonnies on the moneyline a little extra coin. If they win, they'll play Florida (6) as the 11 seed.
With this year's selection, the Bruins have made the NCAA Tournament in four of coach Steve Alford's five years at the helm. (24) shoots over Liberty forward Scottie James (31) during the first half of a Big South Conference championship NCAA college basketball game in Radford Va.
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A 33-year-old Marine veteran and former federal prosecutor, his positions don't always follow national Democratic Party orthodoxy. Saccone serves as a state legislator who is an Air Force veteran. "I don't know anybody who got any bonuses", he said.
The First Four has been held annually in connection with the expansion of the tournament field from 65.
The Bruins have a long standing history of success in the NCAA Tournament.
"On" Selection Monday" as it was dubbed, it was finally revealed where the Bruins would be seeded, where and when they will play and who they will face. UConn is, again, the heavy favorite to win the national title.
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Coming into this matchup, many believed that the Bruins would win by virtue of their interior game. While UCLA has talent elsewhere, Holiday is their engine, their lynchpin.
"Would we like to be playing maybe two games instead of three?"
For good or for bad, whichever way Aaron Holiday goes so go the Bruins.
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