UCLA is without question one of the best teams in the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins (29-4), seeded third in the South region, have what it takes to reach the Final Four and win a national championship.
But if they do, get ready for three more weeks of LaVar Ball. All Ball, all the time.
At this point, is Ball becoming a distraction for UCLA?
“I don’t think he’s a distraction at all,” CBS and Turner Sports NCAA analyst Brendan Haywood said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Do I like it? No. He’s almost acting like Kris Jenner. He’s acting like a black Kardashian. That’s exactly what he’s doing. He’s dancing in his son’s spotlight, trying to get some for himself and throwing his sons out there trying to basically make as much money as possible off them – which isn’t bad, making money. It’s just too brash for me. I don’t like it. I think some of his ideas about branding could possibly be okay, but I think he’s putting his own face out there too much at Lonzo’s expense. The kids seem like they’re used to it, they grew up around him, it doesn’t bother them, I don’t think it bothers the players at UCLA. I think it’s just simply done in poor taste.”
UCLA opens against No. 14 Kent State on Friday at 9:57 p.m. ET. If victorious, UCLA would face the winner of No. 6 Cincinnati (29-5) versus No. 11 Kansas State (21-13) in the Round of 32 on Sunday.
In the East region, meanwhile, No. 1 overall seed Villanova is gunning for a back-to-back national championship, something that hasn’t been done since 2006-07 (Florida).
“It’s very hard to repeat,” Haywood said. “Just to win one championship, you feel fortunate. To win two and do it back-to-back, it’s incredibly hard to do. And the thing about Villanova this year, they don’t have (Daniel) Ochefu inside. (He) wasn’t a star but was very solid for them last year. He was good enough where you cold throw him the ball, he could get a couple of buckets inside and he gave them a defensive presence they don’t really have this year. They’re a smaller basketball team.”
Without Ochefu, who is now a Washington Wizard, Villanova may struggle against teams with size and depth. In fact, Haywood has Villanova losing to Duke (27-8) in the Elite Eight.
“They have the hardest 2 in the whole tournament,” Haywood said. “They have Duke, which probably could have been a 1. A lot of people thought they should have been a 1. This is probably the most talented team in college basketball. There’s not another team that has this many wing players with that much talent. If Luke Kennard gets in foul trouble, that’s fine, we just sub in Grayson Allen. We just sub in Frank Jackson. They have (Jayson) Tatum. They have so much talent at the wings, and all those guys shoot the ball incredibly well. I think Duke will be a very tough matchup for Villanova.”
In other tournament news, Haywood will join Casey Stern, Wally Szczerbiak and Seth Davis for pregame, halftime and postgame coverage during the first week of the tournament, continuing tonight at 6 p.m. ET with truTV’s coverage of the First Four, as North Carolina Central faces UC Davis followed by Providence taking on USC.
All 67 games of the tournament can be seen live across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV, as well as March Madness Live across 15 digital platforms.