7) UCLA Bruins
The Bruins fans finally got what they have been calling for: a new head coach that will hopefully bring them back to the top of college basketball’s power structure. Mick Cronin may not be the sexiest option for a team that has come to be known for fast-paced offensive play, but his track record of consistent NCAA Tournament appearances speaks for itself.
We won’t be gifted with the high-octane scoring that recent UCLA teams boasted, but their defense will at least return to average. Although Cronin should bring new culture of team play and defensive effort, the talent and experience on offense may not be enough to bring the Bruins to the top half immediately.
With Prince Ali and Alex Olesinski as the only upperclassmen, the freshmen and sophomores will need to provide a majority of the production. While teams like Arizona have the incoming freshman talent to provide valuable minutes, the talent UCLA has is clearly a step below. Even the sophomores failed to impress last season, making their production a huge question mark as well.
There is no doubt that Mick Cronin can make UCLA a top team in the conference, but culture changes do not happen overnight. The Bruins’ rebuild may be a two-year proposition, but their improvement this season will probably be less than the fans expect.