In a span of five days, Weber State will go from playing the least-storied college basketball program of all time to the most-storied.
The first game resulted in the largest margin of victory in WSU history, last Tuesday's 71-point blowout of Saint Katherine College, a first-year basketball program from a school with an enrollment of 102 that has yet to reach even the NAIA level.
Today, Weber State will face a program from an entirely different stratosphere, if not universe, than tiny Saint Katherine College -- the Division I team with more national championships than any other in college basketball history: UCLA.
The Wildcats (2-4) will be meeting the No. 22 Bruins (9-4) for the first time outside the NCAA Tournament. Tipoff is at 5 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.
In 1972, a UCLA team featuring national player of the year Bill Walton beat WSU 90-58 in the second round in 1972 en route to a perfect season and the eighth of legendary coach John Wooden's 10 national championships. UCLA won another in 1995 for a record of 11 NCAA Tournament titles.
In 2007, Weber State coach Randy Rahe's first season, the Wildcats were knocked out of their last appearance in the Big Dance with a 70-42 loss to a UCLA team coached by former WSU player Ben Howland.
Howland coached the Bruins for 10 years, including three consecutive Final Four appearances from 2006-08. But expectations at UCLA being what they are, even those past successes and winning the Pac-12 regular season title in 2012-13 weren't enough to keep the former national coach of the year (2002) from being replaced by New Mexico coach Steve Alford going into this year.
Weber State needed a money game to raise funds for its trip to a preseason tournament in the U.S. Virgins Islands next season, but that's not all Rahe wanted.
"I wanted our seniors to have a nice play to play against the best team we could find," Rahe said, "I wanted to play the biggest, toughest, baddest team we could find on the road."
The Top 25-ranked Bruins, with all their history, are what he came up with.
"They're loaded with talent -- as they should be," Rahe said. "They've got three or four pros."
UCLA super sophomore guard, 6-foot-5 Jordan Adams, ranks 34th in the nation in scoring, pouring in 20.2 points per game.
Another sophomore, 6-9 guard/forward Kyle Anderson, is a double-double machine bordering on triple-doubles, averaging 13.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game, good for 10th in the country in assists average. Anderson has one of six triple-doubles in the country this season and is the player closest to averaging a triple-double.
Adams and Anderson are likely NBA draft picks, but the player with the most draft lottery hype is 6-foot-5 guard Zach LaVine, who comes off the bench to average 13.2 ppg.
Rahe said LaVine is like when Russell Westbrook was a high draft pick out of UCLA despite his relatively modest production in college.
"His upside is absolutely tremendous, because he's so, so explosive and athletic," Rahe said.
The Bruins' offense is also explosive, averaging 86.7 points per game, ranked 11th in the country. Defensively, they rank second with 11.2 steals per game and when the Bruins take the ball away, look out for easy baskets in transition.
"When they steal the ball, it turns into a dunk," Rahe said.
Those dunks help boost their shooting average to 52.9 percent, also second in the nation.
Despite their obvious talent, Alford is teaching the Bruins how to play together, Rahe said.
"That's the tough thing when you've got some high-price kids, getting them to play together, and they seem to be doing that," he said. Senior guard/forward Davion Berry, an Oakland native, is Weber State's leading scorer (18.7 ppg).
Defense will be the key to the game, Berry said, but offense can play its role.
"It would help if we score, to slow them down, but if not, we've got to get back in transition, get the ball stopped and get everyone matched up (on defense) and talk and communicate."
Like the Bruins, the Wildcats are focused on playing as a team.
"We just have to do the little things, play tough and stick together as a team," Berry said. "Be physical, do everything coach asks us to do -- play great defense and let everything else take care of itself. We can't worry about the talent level, of course they're talented but we're talented too and we can't back down from the challenge."
Berry also accepts it on a personal level.
"All my life I've been the top guy," he said, "so it's a great opportunity for me to go prove myself against Top 100 guys and guys that I think are headed to the NBA. It's a great challenge for me."