Monday, November 20, 2006

The first big test

It's likely to come tomorrow night for the UCLA Bruins, who are slated to take on Kentucky if they can get by potential giant killers Chaminade, who took down top ranked Virginia in this tournament a little over twenty years ago. This should be a pretty good indicator of where the Bruins are at this point in the season. The field is loaded outside of the hosts. Joining the Bruins and Wildcats in Maui are Depaul, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Purdue, and Oklahoma. That's a very solid field. The Bruins could also meet Memphis in the final, the next highest ranked team behind the Bruins in the top 25.

Tournaments like these are excellent early season tests, and I commend Ben Howland for taking the Bruins to this event. I've been critical of his scheduling history in the past, and there are still a few issues I have with some of the comments he's made in the past (most notably advocating a 16 game conference schedule). A young team with a major target in it's back needs early mathups like this to help them get used to the type of intensity they're going to face from opponents every night this season.

Speaking of major upsets in holiday tournaments in Hawaii, we're coming up on the 17th anniversary of perhaps the most underrated upset in the history of college basketball. On Christmas night in Honolulu, the UC Riverside Highlanders took down then-undefeated and fourth ranked Iowa. They didn't do this on a luck three pointer at the last second. The Highlanders canned 21 threes during the game en route to a 110-92 victory. It remains probably the biggest win in UCR hoops history (it should have been overshadowed by a D-2 National Championship in 1995, but I'd rather not get into that). I only call it underrated because, for example, a google search for "Chaminade Virginia" turns up a ton of hits on that game, while I had to search for about fifteen minutes to find ONE mention of the game (OK, I found two, but one was from me talking about it on another message board). Anyway, here's a link to a brief mention of the game. You'll need to search through a bit, but it's there.

UCLA plays UC Riverside later this season. In 2001, I walked a mile and a half in a Western Chicago suburb, at night, in December, to watch the Highlanders take on the Bruins. UCR actually led by one early in the second half before being blown out, but hey, it was a Lavin team, which meant there was always a chance for an upset. This is the the only match-up in which I'll ever root against UCLA.


Anonymous said...

Why cheer for Riverside? And what's the deal with your allegiances? I see you cheering for UCLA, Illinois, Riverside....what gives? I started undergrad at UC Irvine before transferring to UCLA, but in a head-to-head I cheer for UCLA.

Also, nice to see another Chicago Bruin! Like the site, and particularly like the comments re the Angels-still can't believe after cheering for them for years and suffering through '79, '82, '86 and the epic collapse of '95 they finally win the pennant and the Series the year after I leave California to move to Chicago. Perfect timing.

Seitz said...

Well, the short answer is that I grew up in Temple City (near Pasadena), and have been a Bruins fan since I was a little kid. I did my undergrad at UC Riverside, so my allegiance is to the Highlanders, but that usually doesn't conflict with my support of UCLA. I got my law degree from the University of Illinois, so I'm also an Illini fan, another allegiance that generally doesn't conflict with either UCLA or UCR.

Obviously, there's usually not much to root for if you're a UCR fan. If it ever came down to choosing who to root for between UCLA and Illinois, it would probably depend on the stakes involved.