The community consensus sees the NIT in UCLA's near future. As of this writing, with 825 total votes, NIT bid leads NCAA by 53% to 47%.
Let's review what the most popular professional bracketologists say. As of Noon, Thursday, March 5, here's the summary (this changes after every bubble-related game.
|Bracketologist||Last 4 In||First Four Out|
|ESPN (Joe Lunardi)||Indiana||BYU||Davidson||Temple||Texas||Tulsa||UCLA||Miami|
|CBS||Illinois||Texas A&M||Boise St.||Tulsa||BYU||Miami||UCLA||Stanford|
|NBC||Texas A&M||Boise St.||BYU||Tulsa||Illinois||Temple||UCLA||Old Dominion|
|SB Nation||N.C. St.||Colorado St.||Oregon||BYU||Temple||Illinois||Texas||UCLA|
|Team Rankings||Old Dominion||LSU||Texas||Temple||Connecticut||UCLA||Purdue||Indiana|
They all have UCLA in the last four out.
What will it take for the Bruins to get into the tournament? I think we can all agree that beating Stanford and then Arizona in the semifinal of the PAC-12 Tournament would result in a lock bid. Winning the P12T earns the conference's automatic bid plus would result in a much better seeding -- probably in the West.
But what we're really trying to divine right now is whether UCLA can get into the NCAA's if they lose to Arizona (assuming Arizona advances). In this case, we are really talking about slots 65 through 68.
Let's take an in-depth look at the bubble team resumes (according to the composite):
|School||Conference||RPI Rank||SOS Rank||Overall Record||Conference Record||Next Opponent|
|Texas||Big 12||39||8||18-12||7-10||Kansas St.|
|Boise St.||Mountain West||45||126||23-7||13-4||Fresno St.|
Of course the conference tournaments need to be played, and forecasts will change constantly right up until the Sunday afternoon brackets announcement on March 15. But what could observations can be made based on what we know now?
1) Of the eight bubble teams, UCLA has the second best SOS next to Texas. This one boggles the mind. Texas has a 7-10 conference record, but the Big 12 is thought of as one of the top two conferences this year (the ACC being the other one). Despite their record, Texas has a better RPI rank than UCLA, 39 -49.
2) UCLA has the sixth best RPI of the eight bubble teams. If RPI is the main committee criterion, then this is bad news.
3) Purdue and Illinois play each other, and the loser may be knocked out of the bubble in a bad Big 10.
4) Texas and Davidson still have challenging games to play.
Perhaps Texas and Purdue drop off, but who are the other two teams the Bruins can jump? There are many rating systems, but Kenpom would suggest that Tulsa and Boise State (assuming Illinois beats Purdue at home) are the next best candidates.
The uncertaintly tells me that UCLA has to win two games.
Oh, the complications. What if Arizona got knocked off in the quarterfinals?