Clippers have rooting interest in NCAA tournament

UCLA's Aubrey Williams and Bryce Alford celebrate after the Bruins' 77-60 win Sunday over Stephen F. Austin.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Chatter about the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has slowed considerably in the Clippers’ locker room heading into the regional semifinals.

“We’re the only ones left,” forward Matt Barnes said Monday of his UCLA Bruins, who face Florida on Thursday. “I think Blake [Griffin] has the [Oklahoma] women’s team left, so he’s out of it.”

Actually, Barnes forgot about Jamal Crawford’s Michigan Wolverines, who will play Tennessee on Friday. But given the lack of other Clippers’ alma maters left in the bracket, Barnes can be forgiven.


Griffin’s Oklahoma Sooners were upset by North Dakota State in the second round; J.J. Redick’s Duke Blue Devils were upset by Mercer in the second round; Danny Granger’s New Mexico Lobos lost to Stanford in the second round; and Reggie Bullock’s North Carolina Tar Heels lost to Iowa State in the third round.

“The trash-talking has kind of subsided because we’re the only ones in it and it’s only the Sweet 16,” Barnes said, “so that’s not saying too much about anybody yet.”

Backup center Ryan Hollins said his Bruins haven’t proven anything by winning two games in the tournament.

“The Sweet 16, it’s good to be back there, but they’ve got to win it,” Hollins said. “UCLA, we don’t celebrate second place. You’ve got to win the whole thing.”

Point guard Darren Collison also went to UCLA and played on the last Bruins team to reach a regional semifinal in 2008. That team reached the Final Four.


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