UCLA has announced their non-conference schedule for the 2014-2015 season, and it is more that respectable in terms of the kind of talent that Steve Alford has scheduled.
- Nov. 14 Montana State
- Nov. 16 Coastal Carolina
- Nov. 20 Nicholls State
- Nov. 23 Long Beach State
- Nov. 26-28 Battle 4 Atlantis (The Bahamas)
- Dec. 3 Cal State Fullerton
- Dec. 7 San Diego
- Dec. 10 UC Riverside
- Dec. 13 Gonzaga
- Dec. 20 vs. Kentucky, United Center (Chicago, Ill.)
- Dec. 28 at Alabama
The season kicks off fairly slowly, with three relatively uninspiring matchups before the Bruins play Long Beach State, one of the better mid-major programs on the west coast. After that, Alford’s club will head to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis, which will likely be the strongest early season tournament. It also features Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma and Georgetown, among others.
After a trio of in-state foes, UCLA will wrap up their non-conference schedule by hosting a borderline-top ten team in Gonzaga, taking on preseason No. 1 Kentucky in Chicago and heading to Alabama for their one true road game before kicking off Pac-12 play.
I think this is a smart bit of scheduling by Alford. He’ll challenge his team, but with Kyle Anderson, Zach Lavine, Jordan Adams and the Wear twins all gone from last year’s roster, he’ll give his young guys a chance to get acclimated to the college level before forcing them to square off against Final Four caliber competition.
He’s also managed to schedule five of his team’s six toughest games away from Pauley Pavilion, and while that won’t be the same as a road trip to Arizona, it will force his guys to be able to adapt to an arena that they aren’t used to.
This won’t be the best non-conference schedule we’ll see in 2014-2015, but it is still pretty strong.