The Bruins are ranked No. 5 in the country. They have beaten national powers
And yet their projected
That’s where bracketologists Joe Lunardi of
UCLA proponents can gripe that the Bruins (24-3 overall, 11-3
"That part's odd," UCLA Coach Steve Alford said Tuesday of his team's projected seeding given its resume, "but we don't control that and there are still a lot of games to be played."
The Bruins certainly are trending upward. UCLA has gone 5-0 in February, winning those games by an average of 22 points. The Bruins' 32-point romp over USC on Saturday was the Trojans' most lopsided defeat of the season.
The problem lies with some of the more advanced statistics. The Bruins have an NCAA Ratings Percentage Index of 19 and the Pac-12's RPI is sixth, last among major conferences.
UCLA’s schedule is also an issue. The Bruins’ strength of schedule checks in at 89, according to analytics expert Ken Pomeroy, largely because of a nonconference strength of schedule that ranked only 290 out of 351 teams. Scheduling four games against
"We know we scheduled very well and played very good teams, you just can't control what they do and you can't control what your other league teams do," Alford said. "And truth be told, we didn't get a lot of big wins nonleague within our league like we did a year ago. So everybody in our league has had to make that up in league play."
UCLA, which plays at
"That goes a long way I think in the eyes of the committee if you can go into a place like that," UCLA shooting guard Bryce Alford said of the game against the Wildcats at the McKale Center, "just like what we did in Kentucky. To me, that's got to go a long way. There's not a whole lot of teams that can go into a place like Rupp Arena and get a win, so if we can do that at McKale, that's a big deal."
UCLA probably will start the NCAA tournament in Sacramento because of the pod system that keeps teams having good seasons close to home for the first two rounds, but the Bruins appear destined to play outside the West Regional unless they beat Arizona and win the Pac-12 tournament.
Lunardi has projected UCLA to play in the South Regional and Palm has placed the Bruins in the Midwest Regional. A bigger factor in UCLA's success than where the Bruins play will be how they're playing.
"The biggest question is when we're done with the Pac-12 tournament, how does this team look?" Steve Alford said. "And if we can stay healthy and take the next three weeks to get better before the national tournament, if that happens then we're going to be pretty excited."
Bryce Alford needs 14 points to surpass Ed O'Bannon (1,815 points) for No. 6 on UCLA's all-time career scoring list. Alford already has become the only player in Bruins history to record at least 1,700 points and 500 assists. … Freshman center Ike Anigbogu said the surgically repaired right knee that sidelined him for a game earlier this month was getting closer to 100% and wasn't limiting him.