Many college hoops fans in Southern California woke up delighted today to find that UCLA destroyed Notre Dame in the wee hours of the morning (or mourning for Notre Dame fans). I'm not sure what CBS was trying to do, scheduling a West Coast game for 10 a.m. Was the network trying to get us ready for those early-morning starts of March Madness?
Not that it did any harm to the Bruins. If you were afraid UCLA was going to sleepwalk through this game, those fears were unfounded. Maybe that was CBS' motivation. They wanted to spare viewers the horror of what was the college hoops equivalent of a WWF squash match. This was like Hulk Hogan vs. Barry O. -- only not as entertaining.
Something has clicked with UCLA in recent weeks. The Bruins, as I pointed out a few weeks ago, looked very vulnerable. They were getting pounded inside, the offense look anemic and other teams such as Washington and Arizona State were planning to move into the penthouse.
Then the Bruins swept the Bay Area schools and pounded rival USC. The offense looked quicker, more fluid and that trademark Ben Howland-defense was suffocating.
But there was still a lingering doubt about this team. Maybe they were just fattening up on some overwhelmed conference opponents.
UCLA has struggled at home against big-name opponents on national TV. The Long Horns came into Pauley Pavilion last year and won. West Virginia also got comfortable in Westwood three years ago, scoring a victory. So even though Notre Dame has been struggling in recent weeks, there still had to be some trepidation since they are from the mighty Big East.
Not any more. The Bruins not only won the game, they took the Irish apart. This game was won by 26 points, when the margin could have easily have been 50.
Are the Bruins a Final Four team again? The better question is who is playing better than UCLA right now? USC and Notre Dame have spent time in the Top 25 this season, and UCLA outclassed them in back-to-back games.
Here's some advice for the rest of the teams out there, don't sleep on the Bruins.
While You Were Sleeping, UCLA Crushes Notre Dame by 26 originally appeared on NCAA Basketball FanHouse on Sat, 07 Feb 2009 15:30:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.