Led by nationally-ranked Arizona (Pac-12 Conference), Boise State (Mountain West), Michigan State (Big Ten) and Providence (Big East), the participants in the 2015 DIRECTV Wooden Legacy begin preparing for the 2015 post-season as six of the eight schools have compiled at least 17 wins so far this season. The 2015 DIRECTV Wooden Legacy will be played in southern California featuring the opening rounds November 26 and 27 at Titan Gym on the campus of Cal State Fullerton with the final four games being staged at Honda Center in Anaheim. Other schools in next November’s event are Boston College (Atlantic Coast), Evansville (Missouri Valley), Santa Clara (West Coast) and UC Irvine (Big West).
40TH ANNIVERSARY – The 2014-2015 season marks the 40th anniversary of John R. Wooden’s last campaign at UCLA as the Bruins finished the season by capturing the legendary coach’s 10th NCAA title highlighted by the school’s 92-85 win over Kentucky in the championship game March 31, 1975 in San Diego.
Arizona (14-2 Pac-12 record, 26-3 overall) – The Wildcats enter the final week of the regular-season as the conference’s top team. Prior to being the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 tournament March 11-14 in Las Vegas, Arizona hosts Cal Thursday and Stanford Saturday in Tucson. Ranked fifth in the ASSOCIATED PRESS poll and sixth on the USA TODAY list, the Wildcats have five underclassmen among their top six scorers led by freshman Stanley Johnson (6-7 forward, 14.1 points and 6.8 rebounds a game), a 2015 Wooden Award finalist from Fullerton, Calif. Other Arizona leaders include juniors Brandon Ashley (6-9 forward, 11.2 points and 5.2 rebounds), Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0 center, 9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds, 59.1 field goal percentage) and Gabe York (6-3 guard, 9.1 points), and sophomore Rondae Hollis–Jefferson (6-7 forward, 11.1 points and 6.7 rebounds).
Boise State (12-4, 22-7) – The Broncos received votes in the latest AP (27th) and USA TODAY Polls (29th) as the Mountain West co-leaders with San Diego State finish the regular-season at San Jose State Wednesday and at home Saturday against Fresno State. With a pair of wins this week, Boise State would be the No. 1 seed in the MW tournament March 11-14 in Las Vegas. Top underclassmen include junior Mikey Thompson (6-4 guard, 8.0 points per game), and sophomores James Webb III (6-9 forward, 11.3 points and 7.8 rebounds, 57.1 field goal percentage) and Nick Duncan (6-8 forward, 9.1 points).
Boston College (3-14, 11-18) – The Eagles have won their last two games entering their regular-season finale at home against Wake Forest. Wooden Award nominee Olivier Hanlan is the ACC’s top scorer as the junior guard is averaging 19.4 points a game along with being 11th in assists (4.1 per contest). Dennis Clifford, a 7-1 junior center is the team’s top rebounder (5.4 per game) while scoring 7.2 points per contest for new coach Jim Christian. The ACC post-season tournament will played March 10-14 in Greensboro, N. C.
Evansville (9-9. 19-11) – The Purple Aces face Illinois State Friday in a Missouri Valley quarter-final contest at St. Louis with the winner potentially facing eighth-ranked Wichita State in the semi-finals. Evansville’s “Dynamic Duo” of D.J. Balentine (6-2 guard) and Egidijus Mockevicius (6-10 center) lead the league in scoring (19.0) and rebounding (9.9), respectively. The junior duo is poised to become the first pair of teammates to sweep those statistical league categories in back-to-back seasons since 1961. Mockevicius has 17 double-doubles this season and is shooting 59.0 percent (124-210) from the field.
Michigan State (10-6, 19-10) – The Spartans end the regular-season at home against Purdue and Saturday at Indiana before journeying to Chicago for the Big Ten Championships March 11-15. Top Michigan State underclassmen are juniors Denzel Valentine (6-5 guard, 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game), Bryn Forbes (6-3 guard, 9.3 points) and Matt Costello (6-9 forward, 7.2 points and 5.4 rebounds), sophomore Gavin Schilling (6-9 forward, 5.7 points and 4.2 rebounds), and freshman Marvin Clark, Jr. (6-6 forward, 4.4 points).
Providence (10-6, 20-9) – Before the Big East tourney March 11-14 at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden, the Friars play at Seton Hall Wednesday before ending the regular-season Saturday against nationally-ranked Butler. Sophomore Kris Dunn (6-3 guard, 15.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game) and junior Tyler Harris (6-9 forward, 10.4 points) are Providence’s top underclassmen. Dunn currently ranks third in the nation in assists and fifth in steals.
Santa Clara (7-11, 13-17) – The Broncos enter WCC tourney action in Las Vegas by winning two of their last three games, including a come-from-behind win at home against Saint Mary’s. Santa Clara meets Loyola Marymount Friday with the winner challenging BYU Saturday in the WCC quarter-finals. Sophomores Jared Brownridge (6-2 guard, 15.4 points and 2.6 assists per game) and Nate Kratch (6-6 forward, 5.1 points and 4.6 rebounds) and freshman Matt Hubbard (6-9 forward, 5.1 points and 4.6 rebounds) are the Broncos’ top underclassmen.
UC Irvine (10-4, 17-11) – The Anteaters end the regular-season by hosting Cal State Fullerton Thursday before playing at Big West leader UC Davis Saturday. The conference tournament will be played March 12-14 at Honda Center, the site of the final 2015 DIRECTV Wooden Legacy placement games. Sophomore center Mamadou Ndiaye is the nation’s tallest player (7-6). He has played in only nine games this season with a 10.4 scoring average. Guards Luke Nelson (6-3 sophomore) and Alex Young (6-1 junior) are averaging 10.0 and 9.9 points per game, respectively, while combining for 7.5 assists per contest.