Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: 10 biggest early team disappointments of 2023-24 season

Oakland v Michigan State
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1. UCLA Bruins - 5-6

Although they weren’t ranked in the top 25 of the preseason poll, UCLA still was a projected NCAA Tournament team and someone who could contend for a Pac-12 title if things went differently. But that depended on how good the international freshmen class was, having both a high ceiling and a low floor.

Unfortunately for Coach Mick Cronin, we’ve seen only the “floor” from this group. Aday Mara, the 7’3 center from Spain, is averaging 4.6 ppg and has started to fall out of the rotation. Burke Buyuktuncel has been hurt and just as ineffective, while guards Jan Vide and Ilane Fibleuil have been non-factors in the backcourt.

UCLA is currently on a 4-game losing streak, with one of them coming at home against Cal State Northridge. The best win to date for them is UC Riverside, which came by one point. Considering how down the Pac-12 is, they’re going to have to beat Arizona at some point to have any hope of being in the NCAA Tournament.

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If it wasn’t for Sebastian Mack (15.2 ppg) having a stellar freshman year, this team would be in even bigger trouble. And missing the Big Dance with such a young team wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world but they’ve been decidedly bad against any decent team they’ve played. For a program of UCLA’s standards and resources, what they’ve done so far is inexcusable.