In other words, it’s easy to argue the Bruins are getting more credit than they deserve.
UCLA’s chances to boost that RPI are running out. Tonight’s game against No. 5 Oregon at Pauley Pavilion may be its best opportunity to not only add to the resume, but provide convincing evidence UCLA is among the nation’s elite.
The Bruins have two wins against teams with a top-50 RPI: Kentucky (13) and Cal (36). It can be argued that a road win at Kentucky is the only significant feather in UCLA’s cap. For example, Cal lost by 23 at Oregon on Jan. 19.
Of course, Oregon was lucky to beat UCLA on Dillon Brooks’ 3-pointer with .08 seconds left in the Bruins’ first conference game. But despite 21 wins and just three losses, even those shiny totals make it difficult for UCLA to argue it’s a championship-caliber team.
Aside from Kentucky, the Bruins’ nonconference wins simply haven’t held up. It’s not UCLA’s fault, but RPI numbers aren’t much help from Ohio State (69), Michigan (75) and Texas A&M (93), meaning it has to largely prove itself in conference play.
So far, it is winless in two games against the Pac-12’s elite, Oregon and Arizona. It plays at Arizona on Feb. 25 and could easily get another shot or two at either team in the Pac-12 tournament, but tonight is its last home game against the class of its conference.