As he basked in the glow of a win over Michigan, UCLA coach Mick Cronin was asked whether he thought he had the kind of team in his second season in Westwood to make a Final Four run.
Cronin thought for a moment about five-star prospect Daishen Nix, who reneged on his commitment to the Bruins for the G League. Then he thought about the season-ending knee injury to Chris Smith, his top returning player, and backup forward Jalen Hill’s departure midway through the season for personal reasons. With those three? Maybe. Without them? “Hell no,” Cronin said.
Yet here they are. One of college basketball’s traditional powers, relegated to underdog status throughout the tournament, marching through heavyweights (Michigan State), upstarts (Abilene Christian and BYU), the flavor of the day (Alabama) and the team everyone had pegged as a championship contender since January (Michigan).Two of the wins in overtime. Two more white-knucklers. Only one in which the Bruins were given a chance.
Next up is the overall No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Saturday night in the program’s 19th trip to the national semifinals.
Today on AirTalk, we’re previewing UCLA’s game against Gonzaga tomorrow. Thoughts? Give us a call at 866-893-5722.
With files from the Associated Press