UCLA's Blueprint for Deep Run in 2014 NCAA Tournament

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2014

UCLA's Blueprint for Deep Run in 2014 NCAA Tournament

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    UCLA earned itself a No. 4 seed in the South Region after taking down Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament final. 

    The Bruins are paired with No. 13 seed Tulsa in the second round, and if they win, they will take on either No. 5 VCU or No. 12 Stephen F. Austin.

    With a loaded roster led by superstar Kyle Anderson, the Bruins could make some noise and challenge the likes of Florida and Kansas in their bracket. 

    Continue reading for a complete blueprint for UCLA's success in the Big Dance. 

Keep Spreading the Love

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    When you look at UCLA's stat sheet, a few numbers stick out to you. 

    One of them is the number of assists per game, which at 17.2 is fifth-best in the nation. 

    Another number that is up there in the top 15 in the nation is the points-per-game total at 81.8, which ranks the Bruins 12th in the nation. 

    The main reason for these stats being so high is the play of Kyle Anderson, who averages 14.9 points and 6.6 assists per game. 

    If Anderson and his teammates can continue to dish the ball to each other, UCLA will have a good chance of advancing far in the Big Dance. 

Continue to Take Smart Shots

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    As a team, UCLA shoots 49 percent from the field. 

    Of the eight players who average more than 10 minutes per game, four of them shoot well over 50 percent from the field. 

    Any potential opponent in March will have trouble dealing with the Bruins if they continue to take smart shots and shoot as well as they can. 

    The Bruins are also a strong three-point shooting team with four players that average over 40 percent from beyond the arc. 

Steve Alford Must Get over His Tournament Slump

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    As the Bruins' first game in the NCAA tournament approaches, you are likely to hear about the bad record that head coach Steve Alford has in the event.

    Alford has not fared well in his previous appearances with Iowa and New Mexico and he has never been to the Sweet 16 with a team from one of the power conferences. He did lead SW Missouri State to the Sweet 16 in 1999. 

    It is also worth noting the loss by Alford's New Mexico team to No. 14 seed Harvard in the first round of the 2013 tournament. 

    Not winning in a single game during the second weekend of the tournament could prove costly to Alford and the Bruins, but it could also be a motivating factor for a deep run. 

Defense Must Be as Potent as Offense

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    The Bruins could become one of the most dangerous teams in the tournament because of how balanced they can be at their best.

    We all know about their explosive offensive abilities, but what does not get plenty of attention is their defensive prowess. 

    With the height of Tony Parker, Anderson and the Wear twins, the Bruins are a difficult team to deal with in the paint and they are easily a matchup problem for some teams in the field of 68. 

    UCLA is also dangerous in the backcourt on defense as Jordan Adams, Norman Powell and Anderson combine to average 5.8 steals per game as a unit. 

Show the Same Heart and Intensity Like It Did in Pac-12 Tournament

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    UCLA came out with a point to prove in Las Vegas this weekend at the Pac-12 tournament and it was rewarded with the tournament championship. 

    The Bruins also proved to the viewing public outside of Westwood that they can play with the big guns as they took down Arizona in a hard-fought championship game by four points. 

    UCLA also played the Wildcats tough in the only regular-season meeting between the two sides on January 9 in Westwood. 

    In the only two other games against ranked opposition, the Bruins were 1-1 with a win over a Colorado team without Spencer Dinwiddie and a loss to Duke in December. 

    Those results shouldn't be thrown out the window entirely, but it is worth noting that they did occur early in the season before the team caught fire. 

NCAA Tournament Forecast

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    Prediction: Loss in Sweet 16

    The Bruins should be able to get out of San Diego unscathed with a decided home-court advantage over Tulsa, VCU and Stephen F. Austin. 

    Getting past No. 1 Florida in the South region will be a difficult task for UCLA since the Gators have been on fire all season long. 

    Defeating the Gators would require a monumental effort by UCLA and that just won't be possible against one of the main national championship contenders. 

     

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