UCLA and NCAA seedings

I have a feeling UCLA’s seeding in the NCAA Tournament may become a hot topic soon, so I figured I would address it.
I talked some colleagues and college administrators and coaches around the country in the last week, and most of them see UCLA being no higher than No. 4 seed, at best, in the NCAA Tournament. And that is if UCLA finishes strong and wins the Pacific-10.
Here’s why:
UCLA doesn’t have any big-time road wins, and two of its losses (Michigan and Texas) are to teams not playing well right now. Also, it is a down year for the Pac-10, so the opportunity for big road wins are gone.
Right now, UCLA’s best win is arguably against California. It’s RPI is 26th, according to today’s rankings from the NCAA.
The non-conference schedule has not helped, and even UCLA’s supposed marquee non-conference games are hurting the RPI. Texas (45th) and Notre Dame (78th) are much lower than anticipated, and DePaul (199th) is embarrassingly low.

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  • BruinChick

    If we are worthy of the Championship, we will win it out no matter what our seed is.

    Which Pac 10 school will make the tourney if they think the Pac 10 is so weak?

  • BruinChick


  • ucla2k3

    As long as we stay out West, we should make it back to the Final Four. If we get shipped out anywhere else, things become a little more uncertain. I would rather be a 5- or 6-seed out West than a 4-seed in the East or South. But I do think we have a realistic shot of a 2- or 3-seed if we can run the table from here on out. I don’t expect every team in front of us in the polls to win all of their games. Unlike football, we get to control our own destiny. Win and advance. No silly computers to strip us of a potential title.

  • Booger

    Pity the one seed that gets us in the 3rd round!

  • Jewin

    Thanks Brian. Not to be argumentative, but I have to believe that if we win out and end up with a 30-4 record, we’ll be higher than a 4 seed. I’m not saying we’re going to win out, but the quote says “no higher than a 4 seed, at best,” and I’m inferring that “at best” means if we win the rest of our games. And, if we do win out, that means wins against ASU and UW, two relatively highly ranked teams (RPI-wise), along with another win against Cal.

  • UB (Ultimate Bruin)

    I hear what you are saying, Dohn, but the ‘homer’ in me says we can get a 2 or 3 seed. Nevertheless, a 4 seed wouldn’t be all that bad if it is in the West. Based upon how UCLA is playing NOW, I think we are better than a 4 seed. But, I’ll take a 4 . . .

  • Anonymous

    since our goal is final four or better the seeding doesn’t really matter. If we are a 1 or 7 it makes no difference as long as we get to play in the west.

  • ohh yea

    Brian, there is an opportunity for a big road win on Thursday night.

  • BruinGirl

    Clearly a strong showing against ASU and Cal on the road, and taking care of business at home against UW will be rewarded so long as there is no slip up against any of the other teams. My guess is that if we run the table we’ll get a two seed . . . that’s what I’m hoping for anyway. the team’s SOS is bad (86) . . .

  • The Pac 10 champ is no better than a #4 seed in the West doesn’t make sense even in a down year. Are these the same experts that thought K-Love and Westbrook were no better than 13 to 15 in the draft?

  • Anonymous


    According to your link, California’s RPI is 29th. UCLA’s is 26th.

  • barrya

    While a 4 seed is about right today, I believe that’s going to rise. One game on national TV against a known “name” opponent and we leapfrogged a whole bunch of teams in the coaches’ poll and now stand at #6. This week we play on the road vs. a top 25 team that beat us earlier – Asu – and then at improving Arizona. Those games are on ESPN (with a 9 pm EST tipoff) and CBS (with another of those 1 pm EST tipoffs). Win those two and keep winning and, as is noted above, we’re 29-5 or 30-4, playing (as Ben Howland notes) to the level of expectations when the year began with ferocious defense and second in the NATION in offensive efficiency. That’s better than a 4 seed, especially as we’ll be pretty much the ONLY Western team at or near that level.

    As to an earlier comment, no it’s not as simple as we’ll win if we’re good enough no matter where we’re seeded. #4 winds up playing a #1 seed just to get to the Final Four. Tough row to hoe. And were we to get shipped out of the West – which I don’t believe we will – it gets even tougher. A 1, 2 or 3 seed is important and getting such in the West is close to essential….

  • miltk

    It only matters that we stay in the west. The only advantage to a high seed is their FIRST game is a gimme, from there on it matters little.

    4th seed is 12 – 16. This is where we are now. If we win out, we will break into the top10 but barely. I am surprised your peers put so much importance on two EARLY games. The season is 32 games and 5 months long, and is there anyone dumb enough to think we are the same team that lost those two games?

  • BruinGirl

    Agreed that staying West is key, anywhere in the top 4 seeds. Traveling time zones to play games really bad for teams, esp. west to east. Like I said, #3 out West works wonders.

  • Peter

    Barrya: It’s even worse than you say. The 4 seed plays the 1 seed to get to the Elite Eight.

  • dave

    no way. what are we ranked today, 6th? if that stays the same then we’re a 2 seed at worst. a 4 seed is ostensibly for the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th best teams in the country. we may not have any big wins but the record and the 4 magical letters get us a seed in line with the ranking. guaranteed.

  • Lapu

    Dan Guerrero is the chair of the selection committee. Jes sayin.

  • spedjones

    win out and we’re a 2 seed.

  • SeattleBrewin

    Thanks for the info Brian. Ahead of the game as usual. But I also have to agree that if we can actually win out, and (best case scenario) do it convincingly, we will be higher than 4 seed.
    Can’t wait for March!

  • Blue Bruin

    If UCLA wins out–regular season + conference tournament–it will be a 2 seed at minimum. That is a guarantee given UCLA’s pedigree, recent history, and frankly the lack of other quality teams on the West Coast. I see this scenario as very similar to 2006, with a young team spending a few games (ie, losses) to find itself, then going on an absolute tear to the Final Four. Also, if UCLA continues to pound its opponents, that will win it some style points. You’ve also got to consider the other teams nationally, some of whom will go on losing streaks, some of whom will go on winning streaks. Bit if UCLA is in the top 10 of both polls, then it should earn a 2 seed.

  • Blue Bruin

    Brian, in addition to my comment above, I also really like this kind of posting. It’s not really reporting with facts, but you offer up some good speculation that gets the conversation flowing. Basically, as I alluded to in one Q&A session, I’d like to see more posts like this.

  • wc116

    Excellent! We could use all the motivation we can get. Tell these kids they get no higher than a 4th seed, they’ll start blowing everyone out to make a statement. If they actually get that 4th seed, look out because we’re gonna be on a mission.

  • wc116

    Pomeroy currently rates the Pac-10 conference second behind the ACC. The talks about the Pac 10 being down may be unsubstantiated.

  • CalGirl

    Roll On You Bears! Not so fast teddies, we’re baaaack. Can’t wait for you to come visit Bear Territory!

  • silverlake-bruin

    If we finish the season with only one more loss, win the pac 10, and win the pac 10 tournament, there is no way we ranked below number 5 in the country.

    And there is no way a team ranked in the top 5 is going to be a 4 seed or below. It just won’t happen.

  • BruinGirl

    CalGirl, do you remember the thrashing you had in Pauley just a few weeks ago? 81-66 was the final but it could have easily been 100-66 if Coach Howland hadn’t pulled the starters and key subs way early. Smack down in Oakland come Feb. 28th!

    2 or 3 out west we’re fine!

  • keptycho

    Baloney!! That’s what I think of the ‘experts’ analysis. UCLA is improving by the heart-beat. I think you will see more 15+ point victories from here on and that will impress the tournament committee. I think you are over-analyzing the situation.

  • yabooo

    I Agree with Blue Bruin. If we win the PAC-10 title there is no way we get a 4 seed. A 1,2, or 3 seed is what we can expect as long as we win the PAC-10 title. And I mean the regular season title, not the bogus PAC-10 tournament title.

  • bbruin

    A 2 or 3 seed West is what we should get with a perfect or 1 loss finish. The 4 seed is not that favorable and unlikely with a strong finish.

    Cal Girl why dont you go find Boogie Bear and talk to him. He hasnt shown up since Big Stan punked you guys. You too will disappear after we punk you at home. Until then please keep winning we will need your RPI points.

  • Bruin1970

    Dear Brian:

    Seeding information from a week ago is useless already. Look how many top 20 teams lost in the past week and UCLA has been noticed to be “en fuego” and thus received huge jumps in the AP and Coaches polls. Even conservative Ben Howland publicly says UCLA is now a Top 5 Team. If the Bruins only lose one or no games rest of way in regular season (not counting Pac10 tourney) they will be a #2 or #3 seed. I think the tourney committee has a lot of latitude on using the RPI and will concede UCLA a seed above what the RPI might suggest. The RPI is seriously flawed — why should teams like Siena and Minnesota get inflated rankings because they lost to a lot of quality teams?

  • miltk

    cal girl, your team is built for us. sorry.

  • The Blur

    Win out and we’re a 1 seed. Look at the rankings. But I think a couple more losses are likely.

  • RodneyGuillory

    CalGirl…we destroyed you last time and even got Hasiak. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

  • Larry

    I’ve said this all along… that the SOS and non-conf schedule would kill us. But seriously… common, no higher than a 4? Talk about major East Coast bias if that comes into play. If UCLA wins out they will clearly be the best team in the west and if the best team in the west is only a 4 seed… no way.

    p.s. Seeding does matter. Very much. No matter how good you are… the harder the teams you play, eventually you’ll have an off day and lose. I am like most, I LOVE playing big name teams, but you need the early gimmies in the Big Dance if you want to go far. Look back at the past National Champs for I dunno, the past decade – you’ll see that most (if not all) had at least one game where they were off. There is a big diff between a 3 and a 4.

    My prediction – a 2 seed at best. Most likely a 3. Oh, yeah, in the West (which is also essential to a deep tourny run).

  • awesomebruin

    brian, ur forgetting the ucla AWESOME factor. our mystique alone will grant us favor, so if we win out and win the pac-10 tourney, we’ll get a …. 3 seed, maybe even 2 if we continue to thrash all opponents by like 20 or 30.

  • jdc

    This really is a ridiculous discussion.

    If UCLA wins out they will only move up in the polls. Thus they will conservatively be #5 and number #9 in the polls (at worst). A team that wins a power conference and is ranked in the top ten in the polls will not get lower than a 3 seed and will in all likelihood get a #2 seed. In fact they are more likely to get a #1 seed than a #3 seed in my opinion if they win out. Their RPI is in the 20’s and will only move up with losses from other teams higher up (likely it will be in the low teens if they win out). There obviously has to be a few losses from some of the higher ranked teams to get a #1 but it would be more likely than a #3 if they win out.

    If UCLA loses one game they will probably get a 3 seed(unless it is to washington and Wash wins the PAC). If they lose 2 but win the conference (tie with a pac 10 tournament championship) they will get a 4 seed.

    This is just another example of the east coast bias and the advantadge to a large conference with multiple weak teams where many of the good teams only play each other once (Big east and ACC). A conference with parity that always plays home and away will end up with more losses than other conferences where a team may get a luckier schedule (good teams at home). Imagine if Cal only played Arizona State and UCLA once and at home. Granted the PAC 10 is not as good as the other conferences but a four seed is ridiculous if they win out.

  • Anonymous

    If we win most (or all) of our remaining games 6 or 7 and take the conference, our RPI stands to improve. Possibly up to around 10-15. As a conference champ, I doubt that we’d be a 4 seed, and if we win the pac 10 tourney we would be pretty high up there.

  • bz

    I can’t believe you guys think UCLA deserves higher than a 4th seed…. We have not beaten any ranked team this year! Every oportunity to prove themselves they have faulted… You guys complain about an east coast bias… how about a team without a single quality win getting ranked 6th in the nation?

    The boys are looking like they are starting to gel now and hopefully they can go deep into the tourney. but they should go deep from a starting position they earned. I hope they can play like they have recently against other good team… but they haven’t proved it yet. Personally I think a 4 seed would be a gift.

  • Burbank Bruin

    Everyone bookmark this blog entry so that we can “revisit” it come tournament time. 🙂

  • gubon13

    To be honest, I could care less what seed we get so long as it’s in the west.

    That being said – while I do agree we should be able to get better than a 4 seed “at best,” I also think that if we want a better seeding, we’ve got to prove we can (a) win big games on the road, and (b) win close games in the clutch.

    Blowing out teams at home is great, but it doesn’t give them any more experience with what I think are the two major concerns about UCLA from reporters and tourney officials…

  • Dean

    What a great entry to generate 30+ comments. Maybe he’s just reminding us that when we get higher than a 4-seed, we should take into account some of the UCLA favoritism we receive and show a little humbleness and gratitude. But I’ll echo the previous comments … we win the Pac-10 and tourney, we’re higher than a 4. We’ve been fortunate to stay in the west the last 3 years and I wouldn’t be surprised if they take that away from us this year.

  • Tstroupe

    All of the comments are relevant however let’s just keep steamrolling opponents and not worry about the numbers.

    We need a huge win at ASU and Arizona is the hottest team next to us in the Pac-10. UCLA will always be overrated in the eyes of non-Pac-10 fans. Whether it’s jealousy, blaming our favor on the “UCLA legacy” or a lack of media exposure, that’s just how it is.

    The facts are the facts. On paper and in terms of committee selection criteria, we aren’t as strong as many teams in the country. And unfortunately we have lost to the best teams (Texas, ASU, UW) we have played and the way in which we have lost was not impressive. Are we playing like a top 5 team right now? . . . absolutely. We are literally a completely different team with a completely different offense but we need to do this for more than 4 games to justify a higher seed. That’s reality.

    But let’s use it to our advantage. Anybody who hasn’t seen the last 4 games surely underestimates us. If we end up a 4 seed let’s plan on shocking that #1 seed in the Sweet 16.

  • Mike H class of 1990

    It’s going to be just as important to see what our opposition does. If Cal, Wash and ASU can do well down the stretch it will be easier to place us in a higher seed. If they lose to the Oregon schools, Stanford, etc. and we end up with only 2 teams in the Pac 10 ranked then I believe a 4 seed wouldn’t be out of the question regardless of our ranking. If they do well and we have 4 ranked teams from the Pac 10 then it improves our credibility greatly.

  • Tony


    You have missed the bigger picture, last week the seniors asked Ben to let them run and in return promised better defense and since than (last 4 games) UCLA has had an average of 15 more scoring opportuninties thus scoring an additional 17 pts p/game while not giving up an extra points to the opposing team.

    The Bruins are starting to gel and based on points per possession stats this team is better than last years team at this time with just as many loses in the PAC 10. We lost to SC at home last year no one cried we lose to ASU who is a much better team than last year’s SC team and we are screaming the roof is falling. In fact this team might be better as we are more balanced on offense and scoring and not just feeding KL in the post.

    So if we go 29-5 winning the PAC 10 title we are no worse than a #2 seed staying in the west. If we are as BH suggests a top 5 team we may get a 1 seed but no worse than a 2 seed.

  • UB (Ultimate Bruin)

    Let’s talk FACTS:

    As of this writing, there are 13 teams with better records than UCLA (less than 4 losses). That includes Dayton at 21-3 (SOS 143) and Utah State at 22-1 (SOS 182). I am confident that if the season ended today, we shoudl warrant a higher seed than these two programs.

    That leaves 11 schools with BETTER records. Three times four is 12. So, ‘at best’ we are at approximately a 3 seed.

    Now, factor in the remainder of the season. IF we continue to win by an average of 22.7 points, AND we don;t have any more offensive meltdowns for 8, 10 to 12 minutes, our stock should only rise.

    As for seeds, 1 is obviously the best. You don’t have to face anything higher than a four before the Regional Finals — one step away from the F4. A two or three are about equal. Four is tough because you could face the one seed in the Regional Semifinals.

    I think a 1 is probably our of reach for UCLA, but a 2 or 3 is not only possible, but quite likely.

    That’s my take on it!

  • Jewin

    Let’s hope for a win by Michigan at home against Michigan State tonight, however unlikely that may be.

  • Larry

    Just a side comment… the latest ESPN Bracketology picks are out. Now you CANNOT tell me there is no East Coast bias looking at those. Joe has UCLA now a 4 seed OUT EAST leveling out. Common. Last week UCLA was a 4 seed out West with a raising scale. Since then, UCLA destroyed two more teams (one on national TV), moved up to #6 / #11 in the rankings and what happens…??? Essentially Joe LOWERS our position. Yeah, Ok Joe!

  • UB (Ultimate Bruin)

    Not so unlikely, Jewin. Michigan held their own this past weekend against #1 Connecticut. In fact, it was a ‘game’ the entire way. i would not be terribly surprised if Michigan beats MIST.

  • bz

    UB…. let’s talk facts. You conveniently discount teams with a better record than UCLA that have a worse SOS but you do not give a similar boost to 4 loss and 5 loss teams with a better SOS. The facts of the matter are there are 25 teams with a better RPI rating than UCLA and we haven’t beaten a ranked team yet. The highest quality win is against a team with an RPI rating of 29! To suggest we deserve a 1, 2, or 3 seed based on that resume is just silly. If they win out the rest of the season, how much can they add to their resume. They will have what… one game against a ranked oponent and that will be played at home….

    Let’s hope the team puts it together for the tournement… but let’s not put rediculous expectations on what they have earned.

  • Jewin

    One of the problems with the RPI is it doesn’t take into account how well a team is playing RIGHT NOW. And the RPI has other intrinsic problems. Take Utah for example, with their RPI of 13. While it’s true that they have a tougher shedule than us, having played the likes of Oklahoma (and getting crushed by them), along with squeaking out a one-point win over Gonzaga, they’ve lost to such powerhouses as Southwest Baptist, Idaho State, Utah State, San Diego State and UNLV. The polls, on the other hand, do account for how well teams are playing right now, and they are another factor the selection committee considers when drawing the seedings. bz, I assume based on your logic that the Bruins are overrated at #6 in the ESPN poll and even at #11 in the AP poll? You must believe that we should be ranked no higher than 13, right, as there are clearly 12 teams deserving of a higher seed than us right now?

  • bz

    Jewin, I do in fact think UCLA is over-ranked at #6 and #11. They are playing well right now, but it is against poor competition. Earlier they seemed to be playing well until they met ASU. Crushing crappy teams is not very impressive in my book. Until they have proven they can beat quality opponents I don’t think we should talk about them deserving anything. The problem is they do not have much of an oportunity to prove themselves anymore. The rank seems to be coming from UCLA’s rank at the begining of the season and the historical performance of UCLA and the PAC-10. All three of those we would be complaining about if it boosted another schools rank.

  • BruinChick

    “INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Travel costs will not play a larger role in this year’s NCAA tournament pairings this year than it has in other years.

    Selection committee chairman Mike Slive said during a conference call Tuesday that while the committee is sensitive to the economic climate, it has a responsibility to the nation to provide balanced brackets for the NCAA’s marquee event, which begins in mid-March.

    Slive believes the committee hopes to keep schools close to their fans, a policy that first began in 2001, but not at the expense of competitive balance.

    Slive also said that the committee will not consider conference RPIs and will instead focus on each team’s resume individually.” 2/10/2009 SI.com

  • bz

    ohhh…. I should also add, I don’t mind if you disagree with my conclusions (though apparently Dohn’s sources have come to similar conclusions). Just don’t say a higher seed is a slam dunk. You should at least be willing to concede that UCLA’s resume has some big holes in it.

  • Blue Bruin

    Chris Dufrense of LA Times wrote, “The Bruins’ No. 67 strength of schedule is no doubt a factor, but it’s hard to imagine UCLA will be lower than a No. 2 if they win the Pac-10 title.”