If It's a Tournament, UCLA Must Lose

Turns out that UCLA's failures in a "final four" are not limited to just that Final Four.

Ben Howland's Bruins are indiscriminate when it comes to choking losing in a tournament semi-final. NCAA semi-finals, or just a meaningless tournament in November -- the Bruins always find a way to fall to the occasion.

No. 4 UCLA lost to unranked Michigan, 55-52, in the 2K Sports classic on Thursday night in Madison Square Garden.

That, of course, is bad news for organizers of the tournament who were looking to bring Duke and UCLA together in the finals -- figuring that these two former Super Powers could actually win a tournament for a change.

Turns out that was a little bit myopic of them. Perhaps next time they could find an NAIA school for the Bruins to beat. And let's be honest, Michigan is just barely above that level.

Just make sure John Beilein isn't coaching the team. The former West Virginia coach continues to dominate Howland, even with lesser talent. Beilein twice defeated Howland's Bruins when he was coaching the Mountaineers and the magic continued on Thursday night. For some reason, Howland just can't figure out that zone.

But is it time to go into full panic mode in Westwood?

Panic in college basketball, especially a program such as UCLA, is foolish. But there are some glaring warning signs.

One of the biggest problems that Bruins had was in the front court. Josh Shipp probably wishes that he went to the NBA (or at least Europe) right about now. He was a dreadful 2 of 9 shooting and did not look sharp. Alfred Aboya often looked lost on defense as Michigan consistently beat him on the back door. James Keefe just seems like wasted minutes. Somehow the box score indicates that he had eight rebounds, but that just doesn't seem possible.

And what's with the offense? A game of pong seems more imaginative.

The Bruins did some good things in the game, especially in the first half. But it always seems that Howland's style will allow lesser-quality teams hang around, and you see what happens.

Obviously, the Bruins shouldn't be written off so early in the season. But there are some problems here that could linger in the future. For right now, the Bruins don't seem worthy of their lofty ranking and really need to show something in the coming weeks.

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