UCLA: "Underdog" in the Final Four

Blake PingelContributor IMarch 30, 2008

As I watched No. 1 and No. 10 a few days ago, before UCLA played Western Kentucky, I saw Skip Bayless and another guy talking about which one seed would be the first to lose in the tournament.

Bayless said it would be Memphis. The other guy sat there, thought for a second, looked up, and then predicted that UCLA would lose to Western Kentucky.

My first inclination was to laugh at him and question his expertise, but then I thought, “Oh, it’ s a very unlikely scenario, but things like this have happened to UCLA before.  During the regular season they always play some junk team and lose.”

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case here. UCLA won 88-78, with Kevin Love scoring a career high of 29 points.

I was excited to see this but knew UCLA now had to take on Xavier, the well-rounded team led by Josh Duncan and Drew Lavender (two very outstanding players).  I thought that they had a chance to beat my Bruins.

Bayless thought the same, as did many other commentators on ESPN. They all believed that UCLA would be the first one seed to collapse under the pressure.

But UCLA did not succumb. They whooped Xavier with a 20-point victory.

Even with this win, I think anyone watching that ESPN episode would view UCLA as weak. The commentators had really grilled the team in the days prior to their win, projecting losses to lesser squads.

UCLA is a very good team.  That’s why they got a one seed in the tournament.  But the media had a negative effect on their image, which in my book means they are minor underdogs come Final Four time.

Still, if they keep playing the way they are now, nothing can stop them.  Go Bruins!