UCLA Basketball: Full Preview, Predictions and Storylines for 2012-13

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UCLA Basketball: Full Preview, Predictions and Storylines for 2012-13
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

Say hello to Ben Howland and the UCLA Bruins, or, as they're known around these parts, the Kentucky of the West. 

OK, the similarities between these two programs, outside of the fact they have both been college basketball powerhouses since pretty much the beginning of time, don't run very deep. But if any school is going to make the type of youth-powered run to a national championship like UK did last year, it will be UCLA.

Although, unlike the Wildcats, the success of the Bruins this year is going to come a little bit out of nowhere. 

After three straight Final Four appearances from 2006 through 2008, Ben Howland's squad saw a steep drop off thanks to the NBA's talent-stealing ways. 

The Bruins entered the 08-09 season ranked No. 4, but were ousted in the second round. The next year, they won just 14 games and failed to dance in March. In 2010-11, another exit before the Sweet 16. Last year, despite being ranked No. 17 in the preseason, the Bruins once again missed the NCAA tournament. 

A respectable amount of returning talent coupled with the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, which features two can't-miss 5-stars and three top-100 ESPN recruits, is a decent way to turn around those struggles.

You know, if you're into the whole "endless amount of gifted players" thing. 

Let's take a look at what's in store for the No. 13 Bruins as the attempt to return to the ol' glory days of five years ago. 

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