The expectation bar for UCLA men’s basketball is so high, most people would need an oxygen tank just to reach the top.
So predicting that the Bruins will win the realigned Pac-12 Conference next season may not move old school fans used to seeing championship banners placed high up inside Pauley Pavilion with astonishing regularity. But it should.
These are different times and UCLA does not dominate the college basketball world like it did in the 1960s and ‘70s under the guidance of the legendary John Wooden. Due to the NBA’s one-and-done rule, teams regularly lose top-notch freshmen and sophomores to the pros.
The Bruins came home early from the NCAA tournament after losing 73-65 in the third round to Florida, disheartened, but not discouraged. They are a very young team with a lot of talent that can only get better—if the talent stays in school.
And it appears that most, if not all, of it will.
But that’s not the only reason to be excited about next year if you’re a Bruins fan. UCLA and Coach Ben Howland will welcome several key new players to the roster in the fall. Those players could have an immediate impact and change the very nature of the way the Bruins play, both on offense and defense.
Don’t book your ticket just yet for New Orleans, site of the 2012 NCAA Final Four, but you might want to look into hotel reservations and car rentals.
There’s reason to be highly optimistic about the Bruins winning the Pac-12 next season and going deep into the NCAA tournament—keep reading and find out why.