The UCLA Bruins are one of the most iconic programs in all of sports, let alone in the collegiate space. Whenever you think of the UCLA Bruins, your mind immediately jumps to their men’s basketball program that has produced 11 National Championships but has failed to do so since 1995. However, this is the season that the Bruins will be the final team remaining and cut down the nets as they win the National Championship.
Bruins coach Mick Cronin has had success everywhere he has gone, and this will be his third year inside of the program and has instilled a large core of this team under his tutelage. The Bruins made a major jump last season as they went from the First Four and ended up in the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. They managed to keep a large majority of this team and added a five-star recruit in Peyton Watson to their roster as well as a four-star recruit in guard Will McClendon as well. After going 22-10 in the regular season and 13-6 in the Pac-12 Conference, they added a great player in Watson and should be able to improve even more.
A huge reason for their success was their ability to defend the home court as they went 11-1 inside of the Pauley Pavilion. They also were able to put the basketball into the hoop as they were averaging 75.8 points per game. The Bruins shoot well from the floor (46.1 percent) and from beyond the arc (37.2 percent). The only offensive upgrade is their free-throw shooting, as they finished the season shooting 71.5 percent.
The Bruins are definitely loaded and should be in a prime spot to win the Pac-12 Conference tournament to guarantee and solidify a spot inside of the NCAA Tournament and punch a ticket into March Madness. It is all but certain that they will be able to get to the dance, but getting past some major teams is going to be critical. They have games against teams like Villanova, Gonzaga, UNLV, and North Carolina to test themselves against some of the top teams in the country. Playing against solid teams means they will be battle-tested as they continue their march to the championship.
The UCLA Bruins are bringing back guys like guard Johnny Juzang (led the team with 16 points per game), guard Jaime Jaquez Jr (led the team with both 6.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game), and guard Tyger Campbell (led the team with 5.4 assists per game). That means they will not need players to take that extraordinary leap to fill the shoes of one of the top players and instead gel a little more.
Obviously, a lot can change throughout the year, but it seems like the UCLA Bruins have taken that huge step throughout the 2020-2021 season to be one of the top dogs in the country. UCLA is one of the best men’s college basketball programs in the entire nation and will have their 12th National Championship at the end of March Madness.