College basketball’s March Madness started this week for UCLA and USC in Las Vegas. The Pac-12 tournament kicked off yesterday when the Trojans beat Washington, 78-73.
In this evening’s quarterfinals, they play UCLA at 8:30 in their bid for an NCAA Tournament berth. The championship game is Saturday at 8.
In the Trojans’ third victory over Washington this season, the Pac-12’s most improved player, Chimezie Metu, scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
At 24-8, USC has surprised a lot of people. “I don’t think anyone predicted this,” said Coach Andy Enfield.
Several key players left the USC program after last season, and they added six new players to the roster. “We are proud of our players,” said Enfield. “We just want to improve every week. We have good players, and they have the desire to be great.”
UCLA is ranked No. 3 in the nation, and point guard Lonzo Ball has been named National Freshman of the Year. He also is Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. He is expected to be the No. 1 player in this spring’s NBA draft.
Winners of nine straight, the Bruins are third-seeded in the Pac-12 Tournament behind Oregon and Arizona.
If UCLA expects to win the tournament and make a deep run into the NCAAs, they will need freshman forward TJ Leaf to be fully recovered from an ankle injury he suffered against Washington last week.
In other sports, the UCLA women’s basketball team will start play in the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 17.
The 16-5 Bruin women’s softball team hosts Texas on Sunday at 4 at Easton Stadium.
The UCLA women’s gymnastics team will host North Carolina on Sunday at 12 noon in Pauley Pavilion.
The UCLA baseball team will face U.C. Irvine at home at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Tuesday at 6.
The USC baseball team will host Holy Cross on Sunday at 1. They play at Loyola Marymount on Tuesday at 6.
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