In 1994, Tulsa upset UCLA in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Twenty years later, they’ll look to repeat history.
In the final game of the 2014 NCAA Tournament’s second round, the No.4 Bruins will take on the No.13 Golden Hurricane. The winner will go on to face whomever emerges victorious in the VCU-Stephen F. Austin matchup. They are in the South Region, which is headed by No.1 overall seed Florida.
Both teams enter the contest playing their best basketball of the season. Tulsa started the year off poorly, losing their first four games, and six of eight. However, they turned things around when the calendar changed to 2014. They enter the Big Dance on an 11-game winning streak, including a victory in the Conference USA title game.
"To our guys' credit, they came into practice each and every game hungry and wanting to get better and little by little we started to put it together and piece it together and now these guys go out and we have a little bit of swagger about us in terms of how we play," said head coach Danny Manning.
UCLA isn’t on quite the same winning streak as Tulsa, but they’ve, arguably, been equally as impressive, heading into Friday’s game. The club won three straight games to win the Pac-12 Championship. Those contests included a 19-point win over Oregon, a 25-point drubbing of Stanford and a four-point win over Arizona. All three of those opponents are in the field of 64, and Arizona is the No.1 seed in the West.
When Tulsa beat UCLA as a No.12 seed two decades ago, they did so by scoring 112 points. However, competing in a high-scoring affair might not be to their advantage this time around. The Bruins rank 12th in the nation, putting up 81.8 points per game. Their offense is predicated on sharing the ball, as their average of 17.2 assists puts them fifth in the country.
Kyle Anderson is the catalyst for UCLA’s scoring attack. The sophomore is averaging 14.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists per contest.
"He's very unique,'' UCLA head coach Steve Alford said, after his team won the Pac-12 title. "A 6’9 point guard that facilitates the way he can. He's a nightmare to match up with.''
Tulsa still has yet to prove that they can beat one of the better teams in the country. They’ve faced three tournament teams, but were defeated badly in all of those games. The Golden Hurricane was beaten by Wichita State, Creighton and Oklahoma by an average of 14.3 points per game.
In order for the underdog Golden Hurricane to stand a chance, sophomore James Woodard will have to have a big performance. The guard leads the team, averaging 15.7 points, and is playing better than he has all year. He’s registered at least 18 points in each of the last five games.
The Bruins are decided favorites against their opponent, giving Tulsa 8.5 points. Throughout the year, UCLA has been one of the best teams against the point spread, covering the betting line 21 of 33 times. Tulsa, though has been even better, going 22-8.
Las Vegas Betting Odds: UCLA favored by 8.5 points
Over-Under: 147.5 points
Start Time: 9:57 PM Eastern Time
TV Channel: truTV
Online Stream: March Madness Live
Prediction: UCLA 85, Tulsa 70