All previews: click here for the full 2015 NCAA tournament schedule
Date: Saturday, March 21
Time: 12:10 pm Eastern
Location: Louisville, KY
The Bruins and Blazers both won in upset wins in the first round, both by a single point; which double-digit seed will advance to the Sweet Sixteen?
SportsRatings Power Ratings
Strength: #46 Strength: #150
Median play: #49 Median play: #171
Road/Neutral Rank: #67 Road/Neutral Rank: #179
Other Power Ratings
Sagarin(predictor):#55 Sagarin: #144
Pomeroy: #41 Pomeroy: #121
Offense: #45 Offense: #130
Defense: #76 Defense: #130
LRMC: #55 LRMC: #129
BPI: #44 BPI: #134
Power Rating Derivatives
2nd half/season: #23 2nd half/season: #107
Last 6 games: #16 Last 6 games: #131
Injury correction: #46 Injury correction: #150
Consistency: #197 Consistency: #38
Deep Run Rank: #41 Deep Run Rank: #56
Best Shot: #38 Best Shot: #65
Schedule Strength: #26 Schedule Strength: #147
After UAB's unlikely conference tournament—and particularly after the huge upset over Iowa State—you'd never have figured they are one of the more consistent teams out there. UCLA does outclass UAB by quite a bit on both sides of the court, but UAB just shut down a far better offense.
- Wins vs. tournament teams (5): Coastal Carolina+13, =UAB+12, Utah+10, Oregon+9, =SMU+1
- Losses to tournament teams (8): =Oklahoma-10, =North Carolina-22, Gonzaga-13, =Kentucky-39, @Utah-32, @Oregon-18, @Arizona-10, =Arizona-6
- Other losses (5): @Alabama-6, @Colorado-6, @Oregon St.-11, @California-2, @Arizona St.-2
Key Info: UCLA looked dead in the water at 8-7 after losing to Utah 71-39. And that wasn't even their worst loss—that would be the 83-44 beatdown Kentucky put on them (halftime score: UK 41, UCLA 7). The Bruins battled back but kept getting bit by bad losses (Oregon State, California). In the last month or so, however, they seem to have put that behind them, losing only to underrated Arizona State once and Arizona twice, while winning 6 games, beating the teams they should beat, and upsetting Oregon to go with their earlier win over Utah.
Five Bruins average double figures, including Norman Powell (16.4) and coaches' son Bryce Alford (15.1). Alford was instrumental, to say the least, in the SMU win, hitting 9 of 11 three-pointers.
- Wins vs. tournament teams (1): =Iowa St.+1
- Losses to tournament teams (4): =Wisconsin-29, =UCLA-12, LSU-9, @North Carolina-31
- Other losses (11): Louisiana Monroe-9, South Florida-OT, =Florida-9, Illinois St.-4, @Chattanooga-16, @Louisiana Tech-3, @UTEP-2, @North Texas-3, @Rice-OT, @Florida Atlantic-3, @FIU-4
Key Info: Before the first game, UAB didn't have any wins against the field; Iowa State had the most in the field. The Blazers did play four powerhouse programs but weren't particularly competitive in the end. The Blazers hit their stride once conference play started and peaked with a 20-point win over Louisiana Tech, but lost to lowly FAU and FIU in back-to-back road games to finish the regular season. Playing at home in the C-USA tournament, however, they beat Western Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, and Middle Tennessee to capture the crown.
The Blazers are very balanced on offense, led by guard Robert Brown's 13.1 points, with six others in the 7.0 to 8.0 range. Against Iowa State Brown led with 21, while William Lee added 14 with 12 rebounds.
Game Analysis: UAB is getting better with every game, and the Iowa State win proved it wasn't just home court advantage that was making them good. But there's no question that they needed some help from a subpar Iowa State performance to win the game. If UCLA doesn't cooperate, the Blazers will have to again step their game up to another level.
UCLA proved they belonged in the field, whether or not the controversial goal-tending call goes through or not. They've won 5 of their last 6 games, with the only loss coming at Arizona by 2 points.
UAB can't count on UCLA having an outlier poor performance like Iowa State, but it's also doubtful Bryce Alford can repeat his 9 of 11 3-point shooting. Psychologically, too, UCLA will probably switch gears from the underdog mentality that got them into the tournament with a late push and the SMU win. UAB, however, is going to keep the same attitude that got them through the C-USA tournament and the Iowa State upset.
UCLA by 6
Power rating: spread
UCLA by 9.2
Game-comparisons: % Chance to win
The Strength power rating favors the Bruins by quite a bit more than Vegas, but remember that's a full-season survey; UAB has played a lot better recently.
Bottom line: UCLA was pretty much our only upset pick that hit in the first round. So maybe we owe it to them to pick them to advance, but we're switching to UAB. We think it will be another one point win for one team or the other; it depends on whether UAB has one more higher gear in them or not, because we expect UCLA to play just as strong as they did vs. SMU. But the shots won't fall quite as often.
Final prediction: UAB 68, UCLA 67
More previews: click here for the full 2015 NCAA tournament schedule.