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UCLA UPDATE: TRY THESE TEAMS ON FOR SIZE.

Byline: Jon Wilner Staff Writer

UCLA's arduous regular season has created some delectable possibilities for the postseason.

Because the Bruins probably will be seeded lower than usual when the NCAA Tournament pairings are announced today, the pool of potential first-round opponents is more talented - and more intriguing.

Where intrigue lurks, forward JaRon Rush cannot be far behind.

As a No. 7 or 8 seed, the Bruins might draw Missouri, a likely No. 9 or 10 seed whose starting guard is Rush's brother, Kareem.

Or the Bruins could draw Kansas, whose coach, Roy Williams, reportedly stopped recruiting Rush after his infamous ``Roy subs too much for me'' comment.

``Playing Missouri would be nice, very nice,'' said Rush, a Kansas City native. ``I'd love to play against my brother. But Kansas would be even better, because of the thing with me and coach Williams. I'd love to play against them.''

The connections don't end with Rush. The Bruins could draw Fresno State, whose coach, Jerry Tarkanian, has despised UCLA since his days at Long Beach State in the early '70s. Tark believes former UCLA athletic director J.D. Morgan informed the NCAA about rules violations at Long Beach, thus beginning the organization's two-decade pursuit of Tarkanian.

A first-round matchup would be his first shot at the Bruins since 1972, when UCLA beat Long Beach State in the tournament. The teams never played during Tark's tenure at Nevada-Las Vegas.

``I'm sure he's been thinking about (playing UCLA) for almost 30 years,'' a school official said.

Or the Bruins could draw St. Louis, the surprising Conference USA champion whose coach, Lorenzo Romar, is a former UCLA assistant and longtime friend of Steve Lavin's.

``That would be exciting,'' Lavin said. ``Ro has always been a positive mold for me, and he's been a good friend through the highs and lows. He's been so consistent with his voice mails and support.''

Or the Bruins could face Utah, whose coach, Rick Majerus, has long been the favorite of disgruntled UCLA fans. Or they could draw Wisconsin, whose football team beat UCLA in two Rose Bowls in the '90s.

Then again, the Bruins could face a team with no connections and no intrigue, no big-name coaches and no marquee players. They could be a No. 6 seed or a No. 9. They could be in Buffalo or Birmingham, Nashville or Minneapolis. Betting on the selection committee is usually futile.

``It's impossible to even begin to try to figure it out,'' Lavin said.

But there is one certainty: The Bruins will not face former coach Jim Harrick, whose Georgia Bulldogs did not qualify for the tournament.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 12, 2000
Words:437
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