Shabazz called UCLA's tournament seeding "politics", there may be something to that. By any standard, the NCAA selection committee treated UCLA terribly. Take this from the Arizona Daily Star from the headlined story "Arizona basketball: Cats' gift: West seed. NCAA SENDS NO. 6 UA (NOT UCLA) TO SALT LAKE WITH CHANCE AT LA:" (Parenthesis in Original headline, bold mine below).
Because Adams broke his foot on the last play of UCLA's 66-64 win over Arizona on Friday, the NCAA selection committee downgraded the Bruins in NCAA placement - and kept the Wildcats as the top team out of the Pac-12 - according to committee chair Mike Bobinski.
That resulted in Arizona being assigned a No. 6 NCAA tournament seed, with a first game against Belmont on Thursday at 4:20 p.m. in Salt Lake City and a placement in the West Region. That means the Cats could head to the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the Sweet 16 if they can win two games in Utah.
. ..Bobinski, the Xavier AD who hired Miller as the Musketeers' coach in 2004, said Arizona received geographical preference over UCLA because the committee viewed the Wildcats as the top team from the Pac-12.
UCLA, also a No. 6 seed (South), beat Arizona three times, and Bobinski said the committee considered putting the Bruins above Arizona. But he said they downgraded the Bruins once it became clear that Adams was lost for the tournament. UCLA lost to Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament championship on Saturday without Adams.
"That was a factor for us," Bobinski said. "That injury did give us pause and caused us not to move them up over Arizona."
Not only did the guy who originally hired Miller at Xavier do Arizona a favor, everyone in the PAC 12 came out better than UCLA. In other UCLA for winning the PAC 12 regular season was treated the worst by the committee allegedly because of Adams injury.
The Bruins will open NCAA tournament play Friday against Minnesota in Austin, Texas. UCLA, the Pac-12regular-season champion, is the sixth-seeded team in the South Regional and will be traveling the farthest of any conference team the first weekend of the tournament.
. . .
"We hoped we were going to San Jose. That was our first choice because our fans could go to the game," Howland said. "Two other Pac-12 teams got to go to San Jose. Arizona is in Salt Lake City. Congratulations to them."
One last quote on the seedings.
"I'd rather be closer," Howland said. "I would rather be. Honestly, I'd rather be Cal right now playing in San Jose. I'd rather be a 12-seed playing San Jose. Especially for the fans. For Cal, that's a great situation. They're playing at home. I'm happy for them."
But then there are the irony factors of the match ups, starting with 11 Minnesota. What is ironic about Minnesota is their head coach Tubby Smith. No one should forget that Tubby Smith won a National Championship and never missed the NCAA tournament at Kentucky but was forced out for failing to meet expectations. For Howlers who defend Howland on the basis of final fours or a good job this season keep in mind the high standards of other elite schools.
Tubby Smith is one of the most well-known coaches in college basketball, but hasn't replicated the success he had at Kentucky. He began his career in Lexington with an NCAA title in 1998, and reached three Elite Eights and two Sweet Sixteens before resigning in 2007 due to public pressure and dissatisfaction.
Minnesota will be making its third NCAA appearance in six years under Smith, and are looking for their first victory after two double-digit losses in the first round.
Anyone see parallels between Smith at Kentucky and Howland at UCLA?
Smith's current team of Minnesota is really a cold team now. They started the year hot going 15-1. Since then they have gone 5-11 and have lost their last three. Of course it is a trendy pick to say UCLA is going to lose. But keep in mind Howland has lost just once in his tournament history to a lower seeded team and never before the final four.
Thus while I think UCLA will beat Minnesota, that one loss to a lower seed was to Florida in the championship game. Which brings us to the second irony: if UCLA beats Minnesota and losses to Florida, it will mark the fourth time in seven tournament appearances under Howland that the Bruins have loss to Florida in the NCAA tournament. It will be fitting that Howland's likely last game will be against the team that has beaten UCLA so often on the biggest stage. And remember Howland has never beaten a team more than one see higher than him in the NCAA tournament at UCLA.
But UCLA is a trendy an upset pick in the first round. Actually it goes deeper than that, the whole PAC 12 is a trendy upset pick:
The Pac-12 will go 0-5 in the first (second) round -- Immediately after the 68 teams were announced, the Twitterverse was filled with chatter about the Pac-12's seeding. Oregon's slot as a 12-seed, despite its second-place finish in the Pac-12 and a tourney title, was the most puzzling placement. The league can prove its worth with a strong showing in the NCAA tournament. But I think they'll do the opposite and struggle throughout its brief stay in March Madness. I could see the Pac-12 losing its five first-round matchups. Yep. Sounds crazy, I know. But Minnesota has the athleticism and strength inside to upset UCLA. I don't think Oregon is better than Oklahoma State. I thinkAnthony Bennett will lead UNLV to a win over Cal, even though the game will be played in San Jose. Illinois will get hot and torch Colorado. And Belmont is a tough mid-major that won't be intimidated in its upset over Arizona. That's an 0-5 tally for that league.
Will the PAC 12 be a bust? Will the PAC 12 prove the experts wrong? All we know is the madness is about to begin.
Should it advance to the next round, UCLA could potentially meet third-seeded Florida, a program responsible for three of the Bruins' last five NCAA tournament exits. A run to the Sweet Sixteen seems unlikely, particularly after the loss of second-leading scorer Jordan Adams. The freshman guard is done for the season with a broken right foot.
UCLA had bad losses this season - Cal Poly, USC, Washington State - but also built up strong numbers with a No. 27 RPI and a No. 17 strength of schedule, according to ESPN. The Bruins didn't think they deserved to be dinged for the loss of Adams, but the committee likely thought otherwise.
. . . The decision only looked more bizarre as Colorado and Cal, both of which had weaker resumes, ended up with No. 10 and No. 12 seeds, respectively. The Bears also ended up with a rematch against No. 5 UNLV, whom they lost to by one point in December. Selection guidelines state that "if possible, rematches of regular season games should be avoided in the second and third round."
"That's what March Madness is all about," said senior point guard Larry Drew II, the only UCLA player with NCAA tournament experience. "It's just a whole scrambling. Everybody kind of waits and see where they're going to be placed. Some people might be a little disappointed.
Larry has it right. It is time to play. Go Bruins!