USA TODAY Sports
With all the attention we are placing on Ben Howland's final days in charge of the Men's Basketball program, I don't want to lose sight of how Cori Close's UCLA Women's Basketball team has played this season. The NCAA Women's Tournament Selection Show will air at 4pm Pacific on ESPN, and can be streamed via ESPN3.com or the Watch ESPN mobile app.
With a strong end to the season including a win over then top-5 Cal, and a narrow loss to Stanford in the conference tournament final, the ladies should be set for a strong run through March Madness. In fact, that win over Cal is one of the best wins by any team outside of the consensus top few teams this season.
- Record: 25-7 Overall, 16-5 v. Pac-12. 11-4 Home, 10-2 Away, 4-1 Neutral.
- Rankings: AP - #11, Coaches - #12, RPI - #11
The Bruins do have one bad loss on their record, having fallen to Cal State Northridge late in December. The remaining 6 losses came to top-10 ranked opponents, including a 3-game season sweep by Stanford and an early season loss to Notre Dame, both expected to receive #1 seeds this afternoon. On the flip side, aside from the (strong) win over Cal last week in Seattle, the Bruins have just 1 win over a current top-25 team (Colorado).
The Women's Tournament does not have the same level of pundit love (which may be a good thing) or projection that the Men's tournament does, but ESPN does have an updated projected bracket.
According to Charlie Creme, the pundit in charge of ESPN's Women's Basketball projections, the Bruins will get the #3 seed in the Bridgeport CT Region. They would play the first weekend in Iowa City, playing Montana in the 1st round, with the winner playing Florida State/Iowa in the Round of 32. Kentucky is the #2 seed, the high seed lined up to play the team advancing from Iowa City in the Sweet 16, with UCONN as the #1 seed in the region, playing the second weekend in-state.
While the Bruins may have to play Iowa at home in round 2, Cal may be the winner of this year's Nikki Caldwell award - AKA: 'Congrats on finishing the season as one of the best teams in the country. Your reward is getting to play a lower-rated squad squad in their hometown!'. The Bears are projected as a #2 seed, playing a 2nd round game against Nikki and her #7 seeded LSU team in Baton Rouge, per Creme.
Stanford are projected as a protected #1 seed, playing their opening games home at Maples Pavilion, feeding into the Spokane region for the Sweet-16 and Elite-8. Colorado is the only remaining Pac-12 team projected to make the tournament, as a #5 seed in the Norfolk VA region, but playing at home for the first weekend.
Five of UCLA's non-conference opponents are projected to make the tournament: Notre Dame (#2 RPI, #1 seed), Oklahoma (#30 RPI, #8 seed), Princeton (#27 RPI, #9 seed), St Joseph's (#32 RPI, #9 seed) and St John's (#39 RPI, #10 seed). Overall, the Bruins were 6-6 against teams projected to make the tournament.
This is your open thread to track the Women's Tournament Selections and discuss the Bruins' outlook for the postseason.
UPDATE: UCLA has received the #3 seed in the Oklahoma City region, and will play the opening weekend in the Columbus, Ohio sub-regional. The Bruins open the tournament against Stetson on Saturday at 10:30am Pacific time.