UCLA had its hopes dashed when it was snubbed for the postseason by the NCAA on Selection Sunday.
Only not the NCAA Tournament, as the Bruins’ March Madness fantasies faded in a 66-58 loss to Arizona in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament on Thursday.
No, UCLA was jilted by the postseason NIT and will not accept a bid from another postseason tournament, cementing the team’s record at 19-14, the third time in Ben Howland’s tenure that the Bruins have not won 20 games. No UCLA head coach has had three sub-20-win seasons since John Wooden in the late 1950s.
The Bruins concluded the season with an RPI of 127, according to CBSSports.com, and Howland said emphatically after the now season-ending loss to the Wildcats that the team would accept a bid, if offered. It was not.
“If we have the opportunity to play in postseason in the NIT, we would accept,” Howland said. “It’s something that I want for our players. I think that the experience for our younger kids as well as our seniors having a chance to try to win their 20th game of the season would be a good benefit for our program.
“So, yeah, no question; we would not snub our nose at the opportunity to play in the NIT.”
The Pac-12 was still represented well in the tournament, which concludes on March 29 at the Madison Square Garden, as Arizona, Washington, Oregon and Stanford were selected. The conference got two NCAA Tournament bids, with Pac-12 Tournament champion Colorado getting an 11-seed and Cal playing in the play-in game for a No. 12 seed.