No. 3 UCLA (31-4) will play No. 2 Kentucky (31-5) in the Sweet 16 on Friday in what could be the game of the tournament – at least on paper.
“That’s a game that could easily be in the Final Four,” Fox Sports college basketball broadcaster Tim Brando said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I think the difference in this game is going to be, as it was in December, too much ammunition for UCLA. (Malik) Monk and (De’Aaron) Fox are basically it. If they get the ball into Bam (Adebayo) a few more times – why they don’t do it, I don’t know. But they don’t. Calipari keeps talking about getting the ball inside. They don’t get it inside. It winds up either being Fox or Monk and which one of those guys will show.”
That’s not going to be enough to stop UCLA, which has six players averaging double figures.
“Kentucky played defense really strong in the last five minutes against Wichita State. That’s how they won that game. But UCLA has just got too much,” Brando said. “The Welsh kid (Thomas Welsh) does not miss shots on the wing. Simply does not miss. (T.J.) Leaf is just a matchup nightmare around the elbow offensively. Bryce Alford is off the charts just running defenders through pick and pick after pick. He can turn and shoot off that curl as well as anybody. And Lonzo Ball is the best player left in this tournament. I don’t think Kentucky’s got a chance in this game.”
Brando, to be fair, does think UCLA has weaknesses. But Kentucky doesn’t have enough to exploit them.
“I do think UCLA has holes form a defensive standpoint,” Brando said, “but they’ve plugged some of those by going to this matchup zone. Listen, they’re two blue blood programs. If Kentucky is going to win, they’re going to have to grind it out. They’re going to have to make it ugly. And I just don’t think you can do that with this Bruins team with so much weaponry on the floor. So I like UCLA. I think it will be easier than a lot of people think for UCLA.”
Tip-off is at 9:39 p.m. ET.