Sunday, March 25, 2007


Is it possible that UCLA is under-rated? Maybe the efficiency stats are not quite as high as some of the other top seeds, but this team did win 17 games against the RPI top 100 and 10 games against the RPI top 50. This team did go to the Final Four last year and returned most of the key starters.

The key loss was the graduation of point guard Jordan Farmar and his 13.5 points per game. But, Darren Collison has played even better this season. Collison only averaged 12.7 points per game, but he needed considerably fewer shots to do it. While Farmar took 29.4% of the shots when he was on the floor, and had a pedestrian offensive rating of 99.3, Collison took only 19.6% of the shots and had an offensive rating of 114.1 this year. Collison also had fewer turnovers, a very similar assist rate to Farmar, and more steals. You know, steals. That key little stat in the game on Saturday where UCLA had 17 steals! To put it in perspective, (or to exaggerate), Florida got one steal against Butler on Friday.

Oh, and then there is that Aaron Afflalo guy. As if he didn't make enough dramatic shots last year, he was un-guardable in this game. For all the stars on Kansas, the 6'5" junior guard from Compton, CA was flat out the best player on the floor. There's a reason they say guards win NCAA tournament games, and Afflalo just showed us why.

So if last year’s UCLA team lost in the championship game, most of the key players are back, and the guards are playing even better than last year, can this team win the national championship?

Well, let’s be careful. If UCLA doesn’t make a bunch of ridiculous shot-clock expiring 3 point shots, if Kansas doesn’t blow a bunch of lay-ups, if this game isn’t played in California, then maybe things are different. But, right now UCLA sure doesn’t look like a Final Four underdog to me.