Whicker: UCLA has all the parts to go deep in NCAA Tournament

TUCSON — So now you think they’re going to win the NCAA championship.

That is UCLA’s frame of reference. It is a mentality that has survived a 36-year span with only one championship.

Don’t tell a Bruin fan about Gonzaga and Villanova and North Carolina and Kansas. Don’t expect perspective. Ben Howland coached UCLA to three consecutive Final Fours, beginning in 2006. He didn’t win one, and it took about 24 months for the howling to begin.

This particular UCLA team has earned its right to plant dreams. On Saturday night it endured Arizona, 77-72, in one of college basketball’s most haunted houses.

It has only lost three games this season, all of them in the Pac-12, and has beaten everyone on its schedule at least once. But all this means is that its fan base will not understand any circumstance that denies UCLA the big trophy at University of Phoenix…

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