Well folks, today is the day that we find out what the big boys think of how UCLA competed during the past basketball season, and what the perception is among the selection makers regarding just how competitive this Bruin team is going forward. While as of this writing there is one game left to finish (the Big-10 championship game between Ohio State and Penn State), the 68 teams ultimately to participate in the NCAA tournament have made their case, and the info needed to make those selections is all in. These final couple of hours leading to the selection show (3pm Pacific - CBS) give the selection committee a final opportunity to fine tune the seedings, and us to commiserate about the tournament possibilities facing the Bruins.
While this week's crash and burn in the Pac-10 tournament did the Bruins no favors in regard to the tournament, UCLA's spot in March Madness - if only as an at-large - is set. The issue facing the team today is where they will be seeded in the bracket, and in which city they will be playing their games. As much as the particular seed they are given, the location of their games, especially the opening weekend games is quite important, as the team has historically taken playing close to home very well. The outcome of the conference tournament likely forecloses any chance that the Bruins had in either being seeded in the West region - in the event that they make it out of the first weekend - or to be placed in a subregional (first weekend site) in the west.
To ease our way into the day, I'll take a look at a few of today brackets. To start off the festivities, Joe Lunardi has moved the Bruins down a seed-line from my last bracket update and the bracket that he published on ESPN.com yesterday (3/12), resulting in UCLA now holding the 8-seed in the East region, playing Old Dominion in a first round game in Cleveland, with the winner playing top-seeded Ohio State. Lunardi noted in his (ESPN Insider) blog that the Bruins are solidly in the NCAA field, with 15 teams between UCLA and the play-in game participants.
The final bracket at CBSsports.com has the Bruins actually improving by a seed-line since last week (As opposed to Lunardi's demotion by a seed-line), with UCLA now an 8-seed in the East region, playing against Marquette in a first round game in Cleveland, with the winner of that matchup playing Ohio State.Andy Glockner's Sunday morning bracket at SI.com sees the Bruins fall a seed-line from last week, with UCLA now an 9-seed in the Southwest region, facing Utah State in a first round game in Tulsa. A Bruin victory under this scenario brings about a non-conference rematch, as the winner faces the 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks in a battle to advance to the Sweet 16.
SBNation's bracketology site - Blogging the Bracket - has dropped the Bruins down the seeding quite a bit in the past week, with today's updated seed line showing UCLA as the final 10-seed (#40 overall on the S-curve), down from an 8-seed last week. The resulting bracket has the Bruins in the Southeast region, with an opening matchup against Temple, with the 'reward' for winning this first round game being a date with Florida in Tampa.
RIvals.com has also projected the field of 68, with their final projection of the NCAA tournament field featuring the Bruins as a 9-seed. As the Rivals editor in charge of the projections noted, this year's at large field is particularly weak. For all of the discussion that has gone on here about the weaknesses of our team this season, there are going to be several other at-large selections that have far shoddier resumes and backgrounds than do the Bruins.
For folks wondering about the rest of the conference heading into this afternoon: Arizona's loss in the Pac-10 title game had little effect on their seeding, with their seeds as projected as follows: 5- ESPN/Lunardi, 5- SI/Glockner, 5- SBN; 6- Rivals; 7- CBS/Palm. Washington's run to the Pac-10 tournament final greatly improved their standing, jumping from a team right on the bubble a week ago to a solid positioning in the tournament, with their seeds as projected as follows: 7- ESPN/Lunardi, 7- SI/Glockner, 7- Rivals; 7- CBS/Palm, 8- SBN. As predicted last week, Southern Cal's first round victory over Cal was enough to get them into the bubble discussion, with some projections placing the Trojans into the 'First Four' play-in round: 12(play-in) - ESPN/Lunardi, 12(play-in) - SI/Glockner, 13(play-in) - SBN, Not selected- CBS/Palm, Not selected- Rivals
The official Selection Show will begin at the conclusion of the Big-10 Championship game on CBS (approximately 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific), while ESPN has its own Selection Sunday program on the air now. This is your open thread for bracket talk, Big-10 game discussion for those watching, and the NCAA Selection Show.
Good luck, and Go Bruins!