NCAA tournament: USC seeking fifth straight title against UCLA

Stephen Dunn

USC is taking on cross-town rival UCLA for the third time this season, but Sunday's matchup is for the NCAA title.

The 2012 NCAA men's title will feature a pair of very familiar teams with the USC Trojans taking on their rival UCLA Bruins on Sunday afternoon. USC is 28-0 and looking for an unprecedented fifth straight NCAA title, while UCLA is 28-4 and looking for their first title since 2004. This is also the third time in four years that USC and UCLA will be facing off for the NCAA title.

In the semifinal games USC struggled for just over a quarter against Air Force before easily pulling away in a double-digit win, but UCLA was on all cylinders against St. Francis en route to a 17-3 win.

This is the third meeting between the two schools with USC winning 7-6 and 10-9 earlier this year, so expect nothing else than for this game to be similar to those others. USC is the favorite, especially since they are at home.

At this point in the season we know what to expect from, UCLA is led by Griffin White who scored four goals against St. Francis and has 42 on the year, and then there is Josh Samuels who has a team-high 65 goals. The goal keeper position could be the difference Matt Rapacz, he has given up just 6.7 goals per game all year for UCLA.

USC has Nikola Vavic who set a USC record for most goals in a season after scoring a hat trick against Air Force. The goalie position for USC has been split all year by James Clark and Ely Bonilla. Between those two and other backups, USC is giving up just 5.7 goals per game.

Both teams can put up points, but it will be the defense and goal tending to be the difference. Offenses will need to be patient and not have errant passes to allow either team to have an easy shot at a fast break. Also, with two excellent goalies in the cage, teams need to be on the look out for rebounds to either knock the ball away or get a quick shot back in the goal.

Pretty much everything between these two teams are even, and given that the game is at USC gives just one more slight edge to the Trojans. Expect the aquatic center to be a packed house on Sunday afternoon.

The title game begins approximately at 6:12 p.m. ET and will be streamed live at NCAA.com.

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