No. 4-Seed UCLA to Face No. 13-Seed Akron on Thursday
LOS ANGELES – The No. 4-seed Bruins will take on No. 13-seed Akron (24-9) on Thursday night in a first-round showdown in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. UCLA (25-7) secured an at-large bid to this season's 68-team tournament after finishing as the runner-up in the Pac-12 Tournament last week. The Bruins lost to top-seed Arizona on Saturday night after recording wins against Washington State and USC on Thursday and Friday, respectively. UCLA's game this Thursday will take place at the Moda Center in Portland, the home to the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers.
THURSDAY'S GAME INFORMATION
Venue: Moda Center (Portland, Oregon)
Game Time: approximately 6:50 p.m. (PT)
TV Talent: Andrew Catalon (play-by-play), Steve Lappas (analyst), Andy Katz (sideline)
UCLA's Radio Broadcast (UCLA Sports Network): AM 570
Radio Talent: Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Tracy Murray (analyst)
Westwood One Radio Talent: Ryan Radtke (play-by-play), Dan Dickau (analyst)
SIRIUS/XM Channels: Ch. 137 / Ch. 204
SIRIUS Internet Channel: Ch. 967
ABOUT THE BRUINS
- UCLA's 25 wins this season are the most by a Bruins' team since finishing 31-5 in 2016-17.
- The Bruins finished second in the Pac-12 standings for the second time in the past three seasons (also, 2019-20).
- UCLA finished as the runner-up to top-seed Arizona at last week's Pac-12 Tournament at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
- UCLA has advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 51st time in program history (second consecutive year).
- The Bruins enter this season's NCAA Tournament having won five of their last six games (and eight of their last 10).
- Last season, entering the tournament "First Four" in Indianapolis, the Bruins had lost their previous four contests.
- UCLA has four players who have averaged at least 10 points per game.
- The Bruins had two six-game winning streaks during the season and lost in back-to-back games just once.
- The Bruins lead all Pac-12 programs in scoring defense (64.8 ppg) and in fewest turnovers per game (9.2).
- Eleven of UCLA's 15 players were either born-and-raised in Southern California or attended high school in the area.
WESTWOOD, UCLA'S DOCUSERIES
The Bruins' season-long docuseries – titled "Westwood" – airs on the UCLA Athletics YouTube channel and the UCLA men's basketball program's social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook). Episodes run just under 10 minutes in length and are broadcast on social media approximately every two weeks.
Episode 1 (aired Monday, Nov. 8) – watch
Episode 2 (aired Monday, Nov. 22) – watch
Episode 3 (aired Monday, Dec. 6) – watch
Episode 4 (aired Monday, Dec. 20) – watch
Episode 5 (aired Monday, Jan. 10) – watch
Episode 6 (aired Monday, Jan. 24) – watch
Episode 7 (aired Monday, Feb. 7) – watch
Episode 8 (aired Monday, Feb. 21) – watch
Episode 9 (aired Monday, March 7) – watch
NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTES
- UCLA returns to the NCAA Tournament after having gone 5-1 in last year's 68-team field.
- The Bruins advanced from the First Four to the Final Four one year ago, losing in the national semifinals to Gonzaga.
- UCLA has made 51 total trips to the NCAA Tournament and has won a nation-leading 11 NCAA championships.
- Since the tournament expanded to 32 teams in 1975, UCLA has made 21 trips to the Sweet 16.
- The Bruins have made 19 appearances in the Final Four (compiling a 13-6 record in the national semifinals).
- Prior to last season's appearance in the Final Four, UCLA had not advanced to the Final Four since 2008.
- Entering last year's NCAA Tournament, none of UCLA's active players had ever competed in the NCAA Tournament.
- Head coach Mick Cronin has guided his teams to 13 NCAA Tournament appearances in 19 years as a head coach.
WEST COAST, BEST COAST
The Bruins have compiled a 43-4 all-time record in the NCAA Tournament when playing games in the states of California (27-1), Oregon (11-3) and Washington (5-0). UCLA has played four games (two different NCAA Tournaments) in the city of Portland – in the 1965 NCAA Final Four (2-0 record) and the 1975 NCAA West Regional (2-0 record). The Bruins' 1965 NCAA title, the school's second NCAA men's basketball championship, took place at Memorial Coliseum (located adjacent to the Moda Center). Five of UCLA's 12 NCAA titles were won in either California, Oregon or Washington.
While the Bruins have earned 19 total NCAA Final Four appearances, UCLA's program has made eight trips to the Final Four (the national semifinals) since the tournament expanded to 32 teams in 1975. Last season, UCLA became the first Pac-12 Conference program to advance to the Final Four since Oregon in 2017. Through UCLA's last 10 trips to the Elite Eight (including last year's win over Michigan), the Bruins have compiled an 8-2 record. Under then-head coach Ben Howland, the Bruins advanced to three consecutive Finals Fours in 2006, 2007 and 2008 (and the national title contest in 2006).
WITHIN THE PAC-12: The Pac-12 Conference has three teams in this season's 68-team field (No. 1-seed Arizona, No. 4-seed UCLA and No. 7-seed USC). The conference seeks its 17th all-time championship for league members and has not seen any of its teams since the title since Arizona in 1997. UCLA has won 11 of those previous 16 national titles. Last season, the Pac-12 compiled a 13-5 record in the NCAA Tournament (with UCLA notching five of those wins).
WHAT'S HAPPENED LATELY?
As the No. 2-seed in the Pac-12 Tournament last week, UCLA defeated No. 7-seed Washington State on Thursday (W, 75-65) and No. 3-seed USC on Friday (W, 69-59) to advance to the tournament's title game for the first time since 2014. No. 1-seed Arizona overcame a 40-35 halftime deficit to defeat UCLA in the championship contest. Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Jules Bernard secured All-Tournament Team acclaim, having scored in double figures in each of the three games. Jaquez Jr. finished the three-game tournament with averages of 20.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
HOOPING WITH JAIME: Jaime Jaquez Jr., a 6-foot-7 guard/forward, shot 51.2 percent in the Bruins' three games last week and made 16 of 18 free throws. He registered double-doubles against Washington State (23 points, 11 rebounds) and Arizona (18 points, 10 rebounds). Jaquez Jr. has totaled six double-doubles in 31 games this season.
Jules Bernard, UCLA's most experienced player (127 games), has averaged 16.8 points and 4.4 rebounds in the Bruins' last five games. Bernard has shot 48.0 percent in five games and has knocked down 24 of 26 free throws (92.3%). Bernard has elevated his free throw percentage to a career-high 82.4 percent, which leads the team and ranks No. 4 in the Pac-12 Conference. Bernard has shot 45.4 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in the Bruins' last six games. He currently ranks No. 46 on the school's all-time scoring list (1,155 points), trailing the great Mike Warren (1,176 points) in the No. 45 slot.
LOOKING AT THE OPPOSITION
UCLA has never faced Akron on the hardwood. Akron (24-9) advanced to this season's NCAA Tournament after winning the MAC Tournament title (Mid-American Conference). The Akron Zips have secured their fifth all-time berth in the NCAA Division I Tournament, having previously qualified in 1986, 2009, 2011 and 2013. As the No. 4-seed in the conference tournament, Akron defeated No. 5-seed Buffalo (70-68), No. 1-seed Toledo in the semifinals (70-62) and No. 2-seed Kent State (75-55) in the championship contest. UCLA and Akron did not have any common opponents in 2021-22.
NO. 5-SEED SAINT MARY'S: The winner of the UCLA-Akron game could face Saint Mary's on Saturday. Saint Mary's (25-7, 12-3 West Coast Conference) finished in second place in the WCC standings. The Bruins have gone 10-2 in the all-time series against Saint Mary's, with the most recent matchup having taken place in Pauley Pavilion on Dec. 5, 1990 (UCLA won, 123-93). Tracy Murray scored a team-high 24 points as one of six Bruins to score in double figures.
FIRST FOUR SHOWDOWN: Either No. 12-seed Wyoming (25-8, 13-5 Mountain West Conference) will take on No. 12-seed Indiana (20-13, 9-11 Big Ten Conference) in the "First Four" in Dayton, Ohio on Tuesday (March 15). The winner of the Wyoming-Indiana game will face Saint Mary's on Thursday, March 17, in Portland, Ore. The winner of Thursday's UCLA-Akron game could face either Wyoming or Indiana in a second-round contest on Saturday.
THE 20-WIN PLATEAU
UCLA has won at least 20 games for the second consecutive season, logging its 25th win last Friday night in the semifinal round of the Pac-12 Tournament against USC. UCLA has won at least 20 games in 53 seasons, including 45 times in the last 56 years (1967-2022). UCLA won at least 20 games in 17 straight seasons from 1966-67 through 1982-83. The Bruins compiled a 205-5 overall record through a seven-year stretch from 1966-67 through 1972-73. Over the past 10 seasons (since 2012-13), UCLA has won at least 20 games in six seasons and 25 games or more in three seasons.
ABOUT JOHNNY JUZANG
Bruins' guard Johnny Juzang has averaged a team-best 16.0 points per game and ranks No. 3 in the Pac-12 in scoring (through Monday, March 14). He has scored in double figures in 23 of 27 games played. Juzang has shot 43.5 percent from the field, 36.2 percent from 3-point range and 82.2 percent at the free throw line. He secured first-team All-Pac-12 honors at the conclusion of the regular season and is among 15 players named to the national ballot for this season's John R. Wooden Award (presented to the nation's top player by the Los Angeles Athletic Club).
MORE ABOUT TYGER
Tyger Campbell has secured first-team All-Pac-12 honors for the second straight season. He is UCLA's first player to earn first-team all-league acclaim in back-to-back years since Arron Afflalo (2006, 2007). Through games played on Sunday, March 13, Campbell ranked No. 6 in the nation in assist-turnover ratio (3.32) and No. 4 in the Pac-12 in assists per game (4.2). He is UCLA's first player since Darren Collison (2006-09) to serve as the primary point guard for at least three straight seasons. From 2011-12 through 2018-19, UCLA used seven different players as the team's starting point guard.
THE PRIDE OF CAMARILLO
UCLA's 6-foot-7 guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. hails from Camarillo, Calif., approximately 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles (and in Ventura County). Jaquez Jr. has played in 94 of UCLA's 95 games since the start of the 2019-20 season. He has averaged 14.0 points and 5.8 rebounds in 31 games this season. Over the Bruins' past five contests, Jaquez Jr. has averaged 23.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He tallied a career-high 30 points at Washington on Feb. 28, totaled 27 points against USC on March 5, and registered 23 points in the Bruins' Pac-12 Tournament win (quarterfinals) versus Washington State on March 10. Jaquez Jr. has shot nearly 57 percent (42-for-74) in UCLA's last five games.
COACH CRONIN'S 20-WIN CAMPAIGNS
Now in his 19th season as a college basketball head coach, Mick Cronin has led his teams to at least 20 victories in 11 of the past 12 seasons (the 19-win season at UCLA in 2019-20 was abruptly abbreviated with the outbreak of COVID-19). Since compiling a 26-9 record at Cincinnati in 2010-11, Coach Cronin's teams have averaged 25.1 victories over the past 12 seasons (that includes 2010-11 through this season). He helped guide Cincinnati to 30 wins in 2016-17 and 31 wins in 2017-18. Coach Cronin's teams have posted a combined 126-39 conference-only record during his last nine seasons.
POSTSEASON BREAKDOWN: Coach Cronin led his Murray State teams to two NCAA Tournament berths in three seasons (2004, 2006). As the head coach at his alma mater (Cincinnati) for 13 years, he guided the Bearcats to nine NCAA Tournaments (all consecutive, from 2011 through 2019). This marks his second NCAA Tournament berth at UCLA.
Under third-year head coach Mick Cronin, the Bruins have gone 21-11 in games decided by five points or fewer (includes all overtime games, regardless of score margin). This season, the Bruins have posted a 2-4 record in such situations. In 2019-20, the Bruins went 7-3 in those contests. In 2020-21, UCLA had a 12-4 record. Through Coach Cronin's final three seasons at Cincinnati (2016-17 through 2018-19), his teams went 18-7 in those situations. From 2016-17 through the 2020-21 season, Coach Cronin's teams went 37-14 in such contests.
70 POINTS OR FEWER
Over the past two seasons (2020-21 and 2021-22), UCLA has gone 37-4 when limiting the opposition to 70 or fewer points (17-3 last season, 20-1 this year). Coach Cronin has led the Bruins to a 55-5 record when limiting the opposition to 70 or fewer points. In 2019-20, UCLA went 18-1 in such situations. Through his final three seasons as Cincinnati's head coach (2016-17 through 2018-19), his teams posted a 79-10 record (opposition, 70 or fewer points). Since the start of the 2016-17 season, his teams have gone 131-15 when limiting the opponent to 70 or fewer points (through 197 games).
65 POINTS, OR FEWER: Through three seasons as UCLA's head coach (2019-20 through 2021-22), Coach Cronin has guided the Bruins to a 47-2 record when UCLA has held its opposition to 65 points or fewer. UCLA has gone 17-0 this season (allowing 65 or fewer points), went 15-1 last season, and went 16-1 in 2019-20.
FEWEST POINTS ALLOWED: Since the start of the 2019-20 season, UCLA has limited the opposition a single-game low of 40 points, back on Jan. 19, 2020. The Bruins outlasted California, 50-40, in a Pac-12 contest in Pauley Pavilion. More recently, UCLA limited Stanford to just 43 points in the Bruins' 66-43 win over the Cardinal on Jan. 29, 2022.