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UCLA stands at the beginning of the second half of the pac-10 season with a very respectful 14-6 record, and an exciting 7-2 record in conference, good for a 2nd place tie with U$C. At this current point in time of the season, UCLA is right on track to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006, when UCLA won the pac-10 tournament gaining a guaranteed berth.
Looking at UCLA's tournament profile, UCLA has been hovering around an RPI ranking of 35 for the season, with a SOS that floats around 30th best in the country. UCLA is 5-6 against RPI top 100 teams, with 2 of those losses coming to #2 Stanford and #3 Tennessee, both very competitive games. One important change this season is that UCLA has not dropped a game to any team with an RPI below 100, meaning UCLA is winning all of the games they should, not dropping "gimme" games like they have in the past.
One thing that the tournament committee will take into account is the fact that UCLA is a much improved team ever since Jasmine Dixon became eligible. Without Jasmine, UCLA started off the season 4-3, including 2 tough road losses to Tennessee and Kansas. Since she became eligible, UCLA is 10-3, something that the committee will probably keep in mind.
UCLA under Nikki Caldwell has been making major strides. UCLA is off to their best pac-10 start since 1999-2000, is not having mental lapses against the weaker teams in the conference, and is getting critical sweeps on the road while taking care of business at home. While UCLA does not have a marquee win to point to this season, UCLA has defeated and supplanted Cal and ASU at the top tier of pac-10 teams.
These next 2 weeks are probably the 2 most critical weeks of the season for the team. First, UCLA takes on #2 Stanford on the road tonight, a team that boasts a 40 game home winning streak and is 19-1 on the season. While it may be asking too much to expect a win on the road, it is very important for UCLA to fight Stanford and show the committee that on the road, they can hang with and challenge the top teams in the nation. UCLA then takes on a defensively strong Cal team that UCLA had to fight for a tough win in Pauley. Assuming UCLA loses to Stanford, it is very important that UCLA achieves at least a split on the road, as well as maintaining their lead over Cal/ASU on the top 2/3 spots in the pac-10. After that, UCLA hosts USC in a critical rematch. This game could very well decide 2nd place in the conference, and USC may be with Jacki Gemelos, a player who has been sidelined with an injury this season (as well as every season) who many believe if she could just stay healthy, could be a WNBA player.
After that, UCLA finishes up the season with a home visit by the washington schools who are struggling mightily, go on the road to take on the Oregon schools, and finish up by hosting the Arizona schools. If UCLA can take 2 of their next 3 games, that would be considered a major victory, as UCLA would be set up to finish strong in their final 6 games of the season entering into the Pac-10 and NCAA tournament.
Looking here will give you pac-10 statistic ratings for conference season only. UCLA features the 2nd best defense and scoring margin per game, only behind Stanford. UCLA's biggest concern is its 61% freethrow shooting in conference, which needs to improve in a major way with tough games coming up. It is surprising to see UCLA in the middle of the pack for most rebounding statistics, but otherwise, UCLA is performing near the top in most categories. It should definitely be an interesting and exciting second half of the season, with these next two weeks perhaps being the most important.