DAYTON, Ohio — UCLA’s storied NCAA tournament history includes 18 Final Fours. A First Four? None, until now.

The Bruins open their tournament Tuesday night at the bottom of the bracket looking up, an unexpected development for a team that started the season with an international controversy and ended it with another spot in the tournament – albeit one of the least-desirable.

UCLA (21-11) faces St. Bonaventure (25-7) at University of Dayton Arena. LIU Brooklyn (18-16) opens against Radford (22-12) in a matchup of No. 16 seeds that never have won an NCAA tournament game.

The Bruins had an early and international role in college basketball’s season of scandals. Freshmen Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were suspended for the season for shoplifting during a trip to China in November. LiAngelo Ball also was suspended and withdrew from school.

The hits kept coming.

Louisville vacated its 2013 national title in response to a sex scandal that led to Rick Pitino’s ouster. The FBI also is investigating allegations that led to charges last fall against assistant coaches and agents.


UCLA gained its footing and got in position for the NCAA tournament – though just barely – by closing with eight wins in 12 games. The Bruins had hoped for a better seed but have to earn the chance to face Florida (20-12) on Thursday in Dallas as part of the East region.

Some things to watch Tuesday.

BONNIES IN RARE AIR: St. Bonaventure is in the tournament for the first time since 2012 and has matched the school record with 25 wins – the 1969-70 Final Four team also won as many.

One of the Bonnies’ biggest concerns is Courtney Stockard, who suffered a hamstring injury in the Atlantic 10 tournament. He averages 12.9 points, third on a team that has little depth.

BREAKING THROUGH: The tournament’s first game matches two teams that have yet to win in the NCAA tournament. LIU Brooklyn is 0-6, Radford 0-2.

FAMILIAR ARENA: LIU Brooklyn Coach Derek Kellogg was fired by Massachusetts last season after losing to St. Bonaventure in the A-10 tournament. He got the Blackbirds to the NCAA tournament in his first season and will be playing in an arena that was a regular A-10 stop during his nine seasons with UMass.

“I’ve had some, I’d say OK memories here,” Kellogg said. “And this is such a tough place to come in and play.”

LIKE FATHER … Radford Coach Mike Jones has two rooting interests. Besides his team, his oldest son, Nate, is a guard at Bucknell, which plays Michigan State in Detroit on Friday. Nate Jones averages 11 minutes and 2.2 points per game this season.

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