I ranked UCLA No. 1 in Version 1.0 of the 2021-22 CBS Sports Preseason Top 25 And 1 last April. Then, in May, Gonzaga added another five-star prospect, which caused me to flipflop the Bruins and Zags in Version 10.0. But I never had UCLA lower than No. 2 the entire offseason.
Some readers took great issue with it.
I was constantly asked, month after month after month, where I would rank UCLA if the Bruins had lost in the First Four last season and, you know, not advanced to the Final Four. Respectfully, I always thought it was a weird question, if only because it's pretty normal to gauge and label teams based on what they actually do, and what UCLA actually did is make the Final Four, finish 13th at KenPom, return every player who was responsible for it, and add a five-star freshman in Peyton Watson who projects as a likely one-and-done lottery pick. I didn't really understand why the Bruins had skeptics. But they did - although, after Friday night's impressive comeback victory, I have to assume the number of skeptics is shrinking.
Final score: UCLA 86, Villanova 77 in OT.
In this season's first matchup of top-five teams, UCLA erased a double-digit deficit in the final 10 minutes of regulation, forced overtime, and then pulled away in OT to secure a nice non-league victory over the Big East favorite. Johnny Juzang, a , led all scorers with 25 points. Jaime Jaquez Jr., a CBS Sports Third Team Preseason All-American, added 21 points and 13 rebounds.
"I told [Villanova coach] Jay [Wright], let's just do it again tomorrow," UCLA coach Mick Cronin said with a grin afterward. "It doesn't get much better than that."
It really doesn't.
So shouts to Wright and Cronin for making this happen. Both coaches knew their teams would be good, understood the value of testing themselves early, and weren't worried about possibly taking a non-league loss in November. This isn't college football, where one early loss really can cost you an opportunity to play for a national title; college basketball isn't dumb like that. No game-result in November is a season-killer. And it's nice when coaches recognize as much and create fun games for the sport.
Hopefully more do it next season.
Either way, UCLA remains No. 2 in Saturday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. And Villanova remains No. 5 despite the loss because -- listen up, AP voters! -- it would make no sense to punish a team for losing a game in overtime to a higher-ranked team on the road.
Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Chet Holmgren finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds, seven blocks and six assists in Tuesday's 97-63 win over Dixie State. The Zags' next game is Saturday against Texas.||--||7-1|
|Johnny Juzang finished with 25 points and eight rebounds in Friday's 86-77 OT win over Villanova. The Bruins' next game is Monday against Long Beach State.||--||5-2|
|Marcus Carr finished with 10 points, seven assists and three rebounds in Tuesday's 92-48 victory over Houston Baptist. The Longhorns' next game is Saturday at Gonzaga.||--||6-2|
|Ochai Agbaji finished with 25 points and six rebounds in Friday's 88-62 win over Tarleton State. The Jayhawks' next game is Thursday against Stony Brook.||--||8-1|
|Villanova squandered a double-digit lead with less than 10 minutes left in regulation in Friday's 86-77 OT loss at UCLA. The Wildcats' next game is Tuesday against Howard.||--||6-4|
|Hunter Dickinson finished with 27 points and six rebounds in Wednesday's 88-76 victory over Buffalo. The Wolverines' next game is Saturday against Prairie View A&M.||--||4-5|
|Emoni Bates finished with 17 points, four assists and four rebounds in Tuesday's 89-65 win over Tennessee Tech. The Tigers' next game is Saturday against North Carolina Central.||--||6-2|
|Paolo Banchero finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds in Friday's 82-56 victory over Army. The Blue Devils' next game is Saturday against Campbell.||--||5-3|
|Matthew Mayer finished with 14 points and two assists in Friday's 87-60 win over Incarnate Word. The Bears' next game is Monday against Nichols State.||--||9-0|
|Chris Lykes got 16 points off the bench in Tuesday's 74-61 win over Mercer. The Razorbacks' next game is Saturday against Gardner Webb.||--||6-3|
|Jaden Ivey finished with 27 points and eight rebounds in Friday's 92-67 win over Indiana State. The Boilermakers' next game is Tuesday against Wright State.||--||8-1|
|Jahvon Quinerly finished with 26 points and eight assists in Friday's 104-88 win over South Dakota State. The Crimson Tide's next game is Tuesday against South Alabama.||--||6-2|
|Marcus Sasser finished with 26 points and five assists in Friday's 79-46 win over Rice. The Cougars' next game is Tuesday against Virginia.||--||9-0|
|Oscar Tshhiebwe finished with 14 points and 20 rebounds in Friday's 100-60 victory over Robert Morris. The Wildcats' next game is Tuesday against Mount St. Mary's.||--||6-2|
|R.J. Davis made six 3-pointers and finished with 26 points in Friday's 94-87 win over Brown. The Tar Heels' next game is Tuesday at Charleston.||--||7-2|
|Eric Williams Jr. finished with 19 points and five rebounds in Friday's 86-63 win over SMU. The Ducks' next game is Tuesday against BYU.||--||5-2|
|Jacob Grandison went 7-of-10 from the field and finished with 20 points and five rebounds in Tuesday's 71-47 victory over Jackson State. The Illini's next game is Friday against Arkansas State.||--||7-1|
|E.J. Liddell finished with 29 points and five rebounds in Friday's 84-74 victory over Niagara. The Buckeyes' next game is Monday against Bowling Green.||--||8-1|
|Malik Osborne finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds in Wednesday's 105-70 win over Penn. The Seminoles' next game is Sunday against Florida.||--||4-3|
|Kennedy Chandler finished 7-of-10 from the field, including 4-of-4 from three, in Tuesday's 90-62 victory over UT Martin. The Vols' next game is Sunday against East Tennessee State.||--||5-3|
|Qudus Wahab finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds in Thursday's 71-64 victory over George Washington. Maryland's next game is Saturday against Vermont.||--||5-4|
|Jabari Smith finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds in Friday's 93-65 win over Louisiana Monroe. The Tigers' next game is Friday against USF.||--||5-2|
|Adama Sanogo took 11 shots, made nine of them and finished with 20 points and five rebounds in UConn's 99-48 win over Central Connecticut. The Huskies' next game is Saturday against Coppin State.||--||8-1|
|Kyle Lofton finished with 17 points, seven assists and seven rebounds in Tuesday's 75-47 victory over Siena. The Bonnies' next game is Sunday against Canisius.||--||6-2|
|Keve Aluma finished with 20 points and six rebounds in Friday's 77-57 victory at Navy. The Hokies' next game is Monday against Radford.||--||6-3|
|Boogie Ellis went 9-of-11 from the field and finished with 20 points in Tuesday's 89-49 victory over CSU Northridge. The Trojans' next game is Saturday against Temple.||--||5-3|