Posted: Monday, March 13, 2017 – 11:11 AM
UCLA received the third seed in the South Regional in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Sunday and will face 14th-seeded Kent State Friday in Sacramento.
“We’re excited to be able to play in Sacramento … and stay west,” Bruins coach Steve Alford said. “Now we know what our bracket looks like and those are the teams that we got to really focus on, in particular Kent State.”
UCLA guard Bryce Alford, a son of Steve Alford, said “everyone was excited about getting a 3 seed.”
“It’s a very good seed, a seed that sets you up well,” said the younger Alford, the Bruins second-leading scorer, averaging 15.8 points per game.
The Golden Flashes (22-13) earned their NCAA tournament berth by upsetting top-seeded Akron, 70-65, in Saturday’s final of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. Kent State has won nine of its last 10 games.
The teams have two common opponents — Oregon State and Western Michigan.
UCLA defeated Western Michigan, 82-68, Dec. 21 at Pauley Pavilion, and Oregon State, 76-63, Dec. 30 at Corvallis, Oregon, and 78-60 Feb. 12 at Pauley Pavilion.
The Golden Flashes lost to Oregon State, 69-50, Dec. 21 in Corvallis, and to Western Michigan, 92-88, Jan. 14, at Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Steve Alford said he didn’t think his team’s 86-75 loss to Arizona in a semifinal of the Pac-12 Tournament Friday effected its seeding.
“I would think we’ve been on that 3-line for a long time,” Steve Alford said.
If the Bruins (29-4) defeat Kent State, they would face the winner of Friday’s game between sixth-seeded Cincinnati and the “First Four” game between Kansas Sate and Wake Forest in a second-round game next Sunday.
“For the next five days … (our players) will hear about one team — Kent State,” Steve Alford said. “If we’re lucky enough to win that one, Saturday we’ll talk about our next opponent. The minute you start looking past … that’s when upsets occur.”