It was a good weekend for the Bruins! Not only did the UCLA men’s basketball team win both their First Four game against Michigan State and their First Round game against BYU, the UCLA men’s water polo team won NCAA Title #119!
Now, today, there are two more NCAA basketball tournament games. First up is the men’s team who will play 14 seed Abilene Christian at 2:15 pm. Then, tonight, the women’s team opens play with a game against Wyoming at 7 pm PT.
Coach Mick Cronin seems to have his guys gelling at the right time and, now, they find themselves in a position nobody expected them to be in — the favorite to win.
That’s because Abilene Christian knocked off 3 seed Texas on Saturday, 53-52.
Today’s game will be the first meeting ever between the Bruins and the Wildcats.
Abilene Christian is a small school compared to UCLA. Total enrollment is about 5,300 students. Despite the small size, Abilene Christian has a proud athletic tradition. The school has won 64 NCAA titles. Most of those have come in Track and Field, albeit at the Division II level. But, 64 NCAA titles allows ACU to be ranked fourth in NCAA titles behind Stanford, UCLA, and Southern Cal.
Let’s look at the Wildcats’ starting five.
Senior Kolton Kohl leads Abilene Christian in scoring with an average of 12.0 points per game. What makes this really interesting is the fact that Kohl is the team’s starting center. Kohl is also second on the team in rebounds per game with an average of 4.8.
Making Abilene Christian even tougher to understand is the fact that the team’s second-best scorer is their other big man, junior Joe Pleasant. Pleasant is averaging 10.8 points per game and he leads the team with an average of 5.5 rebounds per game. Pleasant is also the team’s best three-point shooter, with a three-point shooting percentage of 47.6%. He is the Wildcats’ biggest threat from behind the arc.
Senior Coryon Mason is the third Wildcat averaging in double figures with 10.7 ppg. He’s also the second-best from long range. He has a three-point shooting percentage of 37.7%. That’s mostly a product of Mason taking a lot more shots behind the arc than Pleasant. Mason has only made six more threes than Pleasant, but he’s taken 27 more attempts.
Senior Reggie Miller leads ACU in assists per game with 4.5. While he is second on the team in steals, he also leads the team in turnovers. He only has four more steals than turnovers. So, what the Wildcats gain on defense with Miller is basically lost on the offensive end because he turns it over so much.
The Wildcats’ third guard is junior Damien Daniels. He leads the team in steals with 57 and he doesn’t turn the ball over nearly as much as Miller.
Abilene Christian is coached by Joe Golding. Golding has been affiliated with the Abilene Christian program for all but eight years since 1994. First, he was a player from ‘94-’98. Then, he spent three years as an assistant at the school from 2005 through 2008. After a brief assistant stint at Arkansas-Little Rock, he returned to ACU as the school’s head coach in 2011-12. This year is his tenth season as the Wildcats’ head coach and he has compiled a 158-143 record.
I’m tempted to say that it’s almost midnight for this Cinderella team, but no one gave the Bruins much of a chance against Michigan State. So, I’ll just say this. UCLA should win. If they play like they played against BYU, this game won’t be close. As long as they maintain that focus and keep everyone as healthy as possible, the Bruins will return to the Sweet 16 this year.
The TuneIn player won’t embed here on Substack, but you can open another tab to listen. Today’s game is on TBS with Brian Anderson, Jim Jackson and Allie LaForce calling the game. If you would prefer to listen to Josh Lewin and Tracy Murray call today’s game instead you can listen to today’s game online.
Join your fellow Bruin fans discussing today’s game below.This is your UCLA Bruins vs. Abilene Christian Wildcats NCAA Second Round game thread.
Teams: UCLA Bruins (19-9) vs. Abilene Christian Wildcats (24-4)
Series Record: First Meeting
When: 2:15 pm PT, Monday, March 22, 2021
Where: Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
TV: TBS with Brian Anderson, Jim Jackson and Allie LaForce
Live Stream: NCAA.com and the March Madness app
Radio/Audio:AM 570 in Los Angeles with Josh Lewin and Tracy MurraySatellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 137 and XM Ch. 207 (National feed)And, of course, here in The Mighty Bruin Game Thread!
Live Stats: NCAA March Madness
Game Notes:UCLAAbilene Christian
Thanks again for supporting The Mighty Bruin. Your paid subscriptions make this site possible. Questions, comments, story ideas, angry missives and more can be sent to to @TheMightyBruin on Twitter.