UCLA Basketball: 2021-22 season preview and outlook for Bruins – Busting Brackets - Techy Hunters


Thursday, September 23, 2021

UCLA Basketball: 2021-22 season preview and outlook for Bruins – Busting Brackets

UCLA Basketball(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Fresh off one of the most thrilling Cinderella runs in NCAA Tournament history, UCLA Basketball’s hunt for a return to dominance will be among one of college basketball’s most focal storylines during the 2021-22 season – and the Bruins have the parts to fulfill their quest.

Few premier programs suffered as tumultuous of a campaign last year as UCLA did.  Early injuries and two different slip-ups out of the AP Top 25 counteracted an optimistic 8-0 start to the Pac-12 schedule, and a four-game winning streak in mid-February was painfully sandwiched between a 1-3 skid in late January and three consecutive losses to end the regular season, which was capped off by a fourth, untimely loss to Oregon State in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament.

That four-game descent nearly cost UCLA a postseason berth, as the Bruins were relegated to a First Four showdown against Michigan State – but a thrilling overtime duel with the Spartans, paired with dominant showings over BYU and Abilene Christian, paved the way for the Bruins’ improbable romp to the Final Four, which included nail-biters against Alabama and Michigan.

Although UCLA’s run would come to an end in the Final Four, courtesy of Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs’ half-court heave, the Bruins’ revitalized ascent to the top of the college basketball world had officially begun. With a 22-10 overall mark, Mick Cronin‘s crew – in just his second season – featured a few household names, including star guard and Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang, who, despite early-season shooting woes, enjoyed one of the greatest individual tournament runs in recent history.

Now, with just two players gone from last year’s roster in Chris Smith and Jalen Hill – both of whom, despite proving critical to UCLA’s roster, was phased out of the Bruins’ lineup halfway through the season due to injuries – the Bruins will attempt to replicate their stunning success with nearly the same group intact.

If anything, UCLA has actually bolstered its depth, bringing in Rutgers graduate transfer Myles Johnson, who was the defensive anchor inside for the Scarlet Knights’ historic 2020-21 campaign, as well as a pair of elite newcomers, including a five-star small forward and 10th-ranked recruit, per ESPN, in Peyton Watson.

The Bruins have the workings of a team that struggled through patches and nearly missed out on the NCAA Tournament last season – but they also have the star power, supporting roles, and depth to win their first National Championship since 1995.  Contrary to other programs, early-season woes may not be indicative enough of what UCLA could produce by the end of the season – meaning the Bruins will be one of the most intriguing squads of the 2021-22 season.


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