Give Lavin some love

Mar 19, 2002 4:54 AM

Hey, Lupica. Steve Lavin CAN coach.

The nerve of that ESPN  mouthpiece sounding off on a  coach who is continually under fire at UCLA, yet manages to come up with the goods in the big games. The Bruins, made sure it would be 21 straight years that the Final Four would lack at least one of its top seeds after posting a dramatic double-OT win over Cincinnati, 105-101.

The coach who should hear the ranting of Lupica is Cincy’s Bob Huggins. Huggy Bear led the Bearcats to 31 wins this season, most in the nation. Yet they can’t escape the second round.

The Bruins were 8½-point underdogs, but received a super game from Dan Gadzuric. The UCLA center scored 27 points and managed to stay out of foul trouble against a team that loves to bully its opponents.

Lavin has been bullied by enough scribes and radio talk hosts. Hopefully, this result will shut them up for a day or two. There is more to this guy than the slick hair and GQ look of a younger Pat Riley.

The Bruins, seeded eighth in the West, have a great shot of reaching the Elite Eight. Next up is a Sweet 16 matchup with No. 12 Missouri in the friendly confines of San Jose.

UCLA could be looking at a Pac-10 clash with Arizona if the Wildcats get past Oklahoma in the other Sweet 16 matchup at San Jose. Regardless, Lavin proved a point. There are no more John Wooden types at Westwood. Just give Lavin some credit.

ALSO: The underdogs are not faring as well this year as in past NCAAs. Favorites are 26-20-2 ATS (.565) after two rounds. Usually it’s the dogs that cover the number at around 55-60 percent.

The dogs were barking as far as the top three seeds from each region were concerned. Dogs were 13-10-1 ATS, including outright wins over Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi State and Cincinnati.

TIP: Ride Kent State, best ATS team in the land.