1st let me take a stab at why UCLA may not have been mentioned to contend for the NCAA title before the playoffs began.
1. UCLA hasn't had an opportunity to play with their full lineup because of injuries except for a handful of matches. This resulted in UCLA picking up too many losses. As a result they were given a #7 seed. UCLA did not get a chance to show people what they can do at full strength against some of the other elite teams.
2. UCLA on paper had a very tough road to win the title. In my opinion any top 10 team can beat any other top 10 team on any given day. However UCLA would ideally have had to down 4 top 10 teams in #10 USC, #2 Georgia, #3 Georgia Tech and #1 Northwestern in order to win the title. I can see why experts may not have mentioned UCLA when they ideally needed to beat 4 top 10 teams and no less needed to ideally beat the top 3 teams in a row for an ideally improbable NCAA title run.
However this year UCLA caught a few breaks.
3. UCLA doesn't need to play any of the top 4 seeds to win the title, as they were all upset.
4. Someone else told me a good point. UCLA got an extra scholarship for this year (great timing) granted by the NCAA for a medical 5th year in Alex McGoodwin... since this occurred after they had signed Andrea Remynse, they get 9 scholies this year and then only 7 next year. Basically, they got an extra card in the deck. They have a deep team and this extra spot is huge for them now that Ashley Joelson, who played #4 last year, is hurt and out for the tourney... this extra scholie means they have not been hurt by having to bring up Victoria Lind to the 6th spot.
At the start of the season my favorite to win the national title was UCLA. The NCAA finalist the previous year had their top 8 players returning plus added a top 10 recruit Andrea Remynse who could crack the line-up. I predict UCLA to go all the way because they have experience. I think the four seniors will get Stella Sampras her first NCAA team title as the coach.
P.S. Stella Sampras may have been able to win a title earlier. Someone else told me a couple years ago she shipped out a few starting players with bad attitudes. A title this year would be like a reward for her choosing to stick to her principles over winning at any cost. I admire someone who would rather lose a possible championship, then lose their principles.