UCLA scored a victory before playing a minute in the NCAA tournament.
The seventh-seeded Bruins will play No. 10-seeded Michigan State on Thursday in Tampa, Fla., in a Southeast Region second-round game.
The Spartans are a brand-name opponent and figure to get UCLA's full attention. Had the Bruins been matched against a nondescript mid-major team, they would have been ripe for an upset.
If UCLA can get past Michigan State, the Bruins would play either second-seeded Florida or No. 15-seeded UC Santa Barbara. But the possibility of an all-Southern California third-round matchup seems unlikely given the Gauchos' competition.
UC Santa Barbara lost in the first round last year.
Michigan State has been to the Final Four in each of the last two seasons, the only team in the country to do that. The Spartans have also advanced to at least a regional semifinal for three consecutive years, so they know what it takes to make a deep NCAA tournament run.
UCLA is returning to the NCAA tournament after sitting out last season.
Quick prediction: The Bruins will pull together and eke out a victory over the Spartans before falling short against the Gators.