In college basketball arenas across the country, you'll see one common thread -- a lot of banners, raised to the rafters, celebrating achievements both grand and trivial.
Not so at UCLA, where the only time you get into the rafters at Pauley Pavilion is with a national championship. Since they've got 11 to brag about (10 of them in 12 years under John Wooden's watch), they've earned the right to be picky.
As the NCAA West Regional starts, everything seems to point toward UCLA getting that 12th banner after Florida thwarted them in each of the last two Final Fours.
From the inside power of Josh Shipp and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, to the terrific guard play of Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook, the Bruins were great before Kevin Love showed up and snagged Pac-10 Player of the Year honors by averaging a double-double every night. Oh yeah, and they know how to shut teams down and win games in the clutch.
Really, the Bruins should not face any trouble in Anaheim, either from SWAC champion Mississippi Valley State (who does possess a great nickname, the Delta Devils), or either of its second-round foes, Texas A&M or Brigham Young.
Credit the Aggies for moving on without coach Billy Gillespie and Acie Law, but the problem is that A&M gets offensively challenged at times. BYU, nipped by Xavier in the first round a year ago, hasn't won a tournament game in 15 years but could break that spell with Lee Cummard and Trent Plaisted providing inside-outside balance.
Drake is the best story of the season. The last time the Bulldogs from Des Moines danced was in 1971, before anyone called it a Dance, and Drake was picked to finish ninth in the Missouri Valley Conference in the pre-season. Forgetting all that, the Bulldogs went 29-4, with a one-time walk-on named Adam Emmenecker running the show at point guard. Forget all the others -- Keno Davis should be National Coach of the Year.