UCLA/Michigan State capsules
UCLA and Michigan State compare favorably when it comes to basketball resumes, but the current makeup of these teams couldn't be much different. The Bruins are particularly young. Among players with the six most starts on the team, three are freshmen. The team has no seniors. The NCAA Tournament is brand new to nearly the entire team. Michigan State, meanwhile, has been here before. The Spartans have six players who logged minutes in the Final Four and have three seniors in the starting lineup.
The Bruins figure to compensate for their lack of tournament experience with coach Ben Howland's wealth of postseason history.
"You don't go to three Final Fours in a row for nothing," sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt said. "He knows what he's doing."
For the Spartans, experience will only be part of the equation, but it's a pretty big part.
Experience, coach Tom Izzo said, "is maybe the biggest factor we've got going for us. … We've played in some of the biggest stages in front of the most people that ever witnessed college basketball games. I'm hoping that now that we haven't completely fallen off the deep end that that gets us going again."
LOVE THE EFFORT: With former UCLA star Kevin Love setting precedents for rebounds and double doubles in the NBA, Bruins forward Reeves Nelson is doing his best to follow in Love's footsteps.
Nelson has 12 double doubles this season, his most recent coming in one of his best games. Nelson posted a 27-point, 12-rebound effort on Feb. 26 against Arizona. UCLA is 8-4 in the games in which Nelson has double doubles.
THAT WAS CLOSE: Izzo admitted he was sweating bullets when the NCAA brackets were being released Sunday night because of the Spartans' average — by their standards — season.
After going to six Final Fours, it was arguably healthy to gain an appreciation for an at-large berth.
"For the first time in a long time, we were excited to get in," Izzo said. "That's not meant to be arrogance. It just meant we knew from January we were in most of these years and February for sure. So, all of a sudden … it was a little nerve-racking, and I would have understood either way. As I said, we did enough to be in, but we did enough not to be in."
BLOCK PARTY: Honeycutt has been a defensive force for UCLA, leading the Pac-10 with 61 blocks, the third-most in a season in UCLA history. His season-high eight blocks against Oregon State on Feb. 12 were the most by a Bruin since Jelani McCoy's school-record 11 in 1995.
And Michigan State should be aware that Honeycutt has 22 of his rejections in the past eight games alone.
© 2015 Tampa Bay Times
No. Player Pos. GP MIN PTS REB
22 Reeves Nelson F 32 31.3 13.9 9.0
3 Malcolm Lee G 31 32.9 13.0 2.9
23 Tyler Honeycutt F 31 34.9 12.6 7.4
34 Joshua Smith C 31 21.5 10.6 6.5
11 Lazeric Jones G 32 28.9 9.4 2.1
5 Jerime Anderson G 32 20.1 5.3 1.7
21 Brendan Lane F 31 15.5 2.9 3.2
1 Tyler Lamb G 32 12.7 2.7 1.1
4 Tyler Trapani G 3 0.7 0.7 0.3
0 Anthony Stover C 30 7.9 0.6 1.6
15 Blake Arnet G 7 1.3 0.3 0.1
13 Matt DeMarcus G 3 0.7 0.0 0.0
10 Alex Schrempf F 3 0.7 0.0 0.0
14 Jack Haley G 2 2.0 0.0 1.0
Coach: Ben HowlandRecord: 22-10
Perhaps the biggest reason to believe in UCLA is its 71-49 shellacking of then-No. 10 Arizona on Feb. 26 in the final game at historic Pauley Pavillion. Legendary coach John Wooden's great-grandson made UCLA's final basket of the game. On Dec. 18, the Bruins defeated BYU 86-79, avoiding a fall to .500.
The Bruins lost to Oregon State 76-59 in the Pac-10 tournament after sweeping the Ducks in the regular season. A Dec. 5 loss to Montana dropped UCLA to 3-4 and was its fourth consecutive defeat.
About the school
Location: Los Angeles.
Famous alumni: Baseball Hall-of-Famer Jackie Robinson; singer Jim Morrison of the Doors; Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; actor Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
No. Player Pos. GP MIN PTS REB
1 Kalin Lucas G 33 33.3 17.2 2.2
23 Draymond Green F 33 29.9 12.3 8.6
15 Durrell Summers G 33 29.2 11.5 4.3
11 Keith Appling G 33 22.8 6.3 2.8
10 Delvon Roe F 33 23.7 6.0 5.1
41 Garrick Sherman C 33 12.2 3.2 2.5
25 Derrick Nix C 29 8.3 2.7 2.0
5 Adreian Payne C 33 9.0 2.6 2.3
13 Austin Thornton G 33 11.2 2.0 2.1
20 Mike Kebler G 32 10.1 1.6 1.0
44 Anthony Ianni C 6 1.3 0.3 0.7
3 Matt Heneveld G 4 1.8 0.0 0.0
40 Nick Giard F 5 1.2 0.0 0.0
Coach: Tom IzzoRecord: 19-14
The Spartans rebounded from a rough start against a brutal schedule to score a 64-61 overtime win over Wisconsin. Friday, Kalin Lucas scored a career-high 30 to lead the Spartans to an 18-point rout of No. 9 Purdue in the Big Ten tournament.
In a rivalry that goes back decades, only once had Wisconsin beaten Michigan State worse than it did on Feb. 6 when the Badgers romped 82-56. Michigan State fell to 5-6 with the loss, in which it trailed by as many as 33 points. Iowa, which finished 11-20, whipped the Spartans 72-52 on Feb. 2 to drop Michigan State to 5-5 in the Big Ten.
About the school
Location: East Lansing, Mich.
Famous alumni: Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts; Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Ford; former U.S. Energy Secretary and former Sen. Spencer Abraham.