UCLA Bruins (25-5) vs. Weber State Wildcats (20-11)
When: Thursday, 7:10 p.m.
1. White guys from Orange County, brah! A lot of people make a big deal out of the fact that UCLA has 2 Cameroonians, a Canadian and a Serbian pimp (Facebook pictures don't lie) on the roster. That's just fine and dandy, but in all seriousness, what college team doesn't have a full UN committee on their roster these days? The real void in the college basketball demographic can be found by taking the 405 South about an hour from the UCLA campus. How many kids can you name who just two years ago were busy partying with the cast of Laguna Beach and are now playing D1 ball? If you're a talented high school athlete in the 949, your priorities typically look like this: Surf, girls, surf, girls, volleyball practice brah!, surf, girls, hair gel, water polo practice, surf, girls, girls. High School Basketball in the OC?? Give me a break! Only the most baller of ballers can pull that off, and UCLA has not one, but two of them on the team: Mike Roll and James Keefe. Two OC studs who could have just as easily been majoring in Vagina Acquisition at USC, but instead chose to help lead UCLA to dominance.
2. Finally, 100% Lavin Free. Sure, we all loved the contributions of Cedric Bozeman and Ryan Hollins in last year's championship-game run. They were great and all, but as long as they were wearing 'UCLA' across their chests, the stench of Steve Lavin was still lingering around the locker room. With the graduation of four seniors last year (Bozeman, Hollins, Michael Fey and Janou Rubin), the UCLA program has now completely rid itself of the taint of Steve 16. It's all Ben Howland's program now. No more excuses. Although, I must admit that us UCLA fans miss the days when our star player, TJ Cummings, was allowed time away from practice so that he could make sweet sweet love to Missy Elliot after his cameo in her "Work it" video.
3. Me and Lorenzo, chilling in the Benzo. We've beat up on a lot of teams in the past two years. Fans everywhere realize the only chance their team has of beating us is if they can figure out a way to get under our players skin when we come to town. Some get creative and have been successful, most notably Ryan J. Boyd of West Fuckin' Virginia, who distracted our team by throwing planet earth out of orbit with his pelvic thrusts. However, the vast majority of our opposing fans are not nearly as resourceful as Mr. Boyd. They typically resort to the "Let's talk shit" technique, and usually target the questionable physical appearance of our starting center, Lorenzo Mata. To them I reply, "Let's do the math, shall we?" A simple Google search of 'lorenzo+mata+ugly' yields 28,800 results, while a search of 'lorenzo+mata+bitches' yields 132,000 results. The math is simple ladies and gentlemen ... for every hater out there who tries belittling our legendary big man, there are five ladies ready and willing to service him. Therefore, your attempts at distraction are fruitless. You should have had a fat guy do the YMCA, dumbasses. — Trevor Gribble
WEBER STATE WILDCATS
1. The Original 'Cinderella Team.' You've seen the DirecTV commercial: "Who ever heard of Weber State?" Outside of Utah, the only people who know the name (and that it's pronounced WEE-ber) are NCAA Tournament fans who recognize the Wildcats as the scrappy minor-mid-major team that has managed to win six first-round games since 1969. The team's greatest moment in the spotlight was its 1999 first-round win over North Carolina, followed by an overtime loss to Florida.
2. Who's the Little Guy? The one in the purple-striped tie, who disappears completely in the middle of a players huddle? That's first-year head coach Randy Rahe. And while generous reports put his height at 5-7 or 5-8, he's suddenly a giant in the state and in the Big Sky Conference (which, by the time this is posted, will assuredly have named him coach of the year after the Wildcats' worst-to-first turnaround). Rahe's a no-nonsense guy who put this team together around only three returning players and got everyone to buy into a team-first, hard-work mentality. He's also refreshingly non-clich in interviews: When asked about watching Weber's 21-point lead in the Big Sky title game dwindle to two points in the second half, he replied, "I wanted to throw up."
3. Players to Watch. Senior forward David Patten, the Big Sky player of the year, is the heart of this team. He has great range, shooting almost 40 percent from 3-point land, but was asked to play closer to the basket this season and developed into an inside threat — he'll participate in the dunk contest at the Final Four. He's also tough, suffering a broken cheekbone during a game on February 1, then scoring 22 points against Northern Arizona 48 hours later. Others: Dezmon Harris, the junior point guard who's not really a point guard. You'll recognize him by his ball-handling skills, his fearless drives to the basket and his absolutely gigantic head. A head that size should be on a 7-footer's body; Harris is 6-1. Sophomore guard Juan Pablo (JP) Silveira of Uruguay has scored in double figures eight of his last nine games. He also is smoking hot and has developed a devoted female fan base in Ogden and among the ladies of Deadspin. — Jen Philion