It’s undeniable that UCLA’s schedule is weak, limiting its potential to earn resume-building wins – its RPI actually dropped from 20 to 25 after beating lowly Oregon State on Sunday. But humans recognize that if UCLA is capable of beating a team of Oregon’s caliber, it doesn’t need to be heavily penalized for the upredictable element of a schedule that didn’t pan out.
The Bruins have high quality wins over Oregon and Kentucky more than two months apart. They have remained steadily on the cusp of being great all season, but there have been limited opportunities to prove it.
Its win over Oregon, however, earned it no favor from the NCAA tournament selection committee. Coach Steve Alford was none too pleased that UCLA was slotted as a No. 4 seed in Saturday’s preliminary bracket. If the tournament started tomorrow, I’d give UCLA a No. 2 seed and feel good about it.
How I voted in the Week 15 AP men’s basketball poll:
Arizona’s 27-point loss to Oregon Feb. 4 is such an outlier on its resume – and the Wildcats’ only loss in the last two months – that it still deserves to be a top-5 team. UCLA seems like the only team left on the schedule capable of beating the first-place team in the Pac-12.
The Bruins so desperately needed Thursday’s win over then-No. 5 Oregon. Even with a win over the Ducks that looks like the best victory on its resume, UCLA is still struggling to get respect from the tournament committee, which projected it as a No. 4 seed.
After winning 17 in a row, Oregon has now lost two of its five most recent games. Despite the recent swoon, I think the Ducks have the ideal make-up for a tournament team – experience, balance and solid on both ends of the floor.
9. North Carolina
10. Florida State
If Kentucky can avoid any losses down the stretch, UCLA’s RPI would be much appreciative. The Wildcats only have one bad loss, at Tennessee. The others are to a pair of teams ranked ahead of it and a Florida team that is quickly gaining respect.
17. West Virginia
21. Saint Mary’s
23. South Carolina
The actual Week 15 AP poll
1. Gonzaga (60)
2. Villanova (5)
9. West Virginia
10. North Carolina
17. Florida State
21. South Carolina
22. Saint Mary’s (Cal)
25. Notre Dame