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Yes, UCLA Basketball Still has a Shot at the NCAA Tournament

Unbelievable UCLA still has a decent chance to make the NCAA tournament

Yes, Bryce could still do an NCAA tourney news conference this year.
Yes, Bryce could still do an NCAA tourney news conference this year.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It is difficult to forecast NCAA chances because there are so many variables, not the least of which is all the other teams.  For example if every conference tournament is won by an underdog that was not otherwise going to the tournament there are fewer spots.  So for this post I am making the following assumptions:

1.        The Pac 12 is better than last year.  So a slightly worse record is not as damaging.

2.       UCLA was better in the non-conference than last year.  So again a slightly worse record is not as damaging.

3.       The NCAA does regard finishes when picking at large teams, e.g. teams that finish the season poorly are less likely to be considered.

4.       UCLA finished 19-12 (11-7 in PAC 12) last season obtaining win 20 in the PAC 12 tournament to go 20-13 when selected by the NCAA committee in a controversial pick.

5.       UCLA needs to get to at least 19 wins with at least one win in the PAC 12 tournament to even have a shot.  In other words 4-2* may be the minimum the rest of the way with one win in the PAC 12 tournament.  5-1 UCLA is likely in with a win in the PAC 12 tournament.

6.       UCLA is currently ranked 59 in the BPI.

I am being very generous in the above.  UCLA is currently 14-11 with six games left.  So on to predicting the last six games.

1. Utah at home (BPI Rank 44, KemPom 40).  This may be a favorable matchup for UCLA.  With Utah's key player being a big Jakob Poetl and with UCLA at home, this is the kind of game UCLA can win.

2.  Colorado (BPI rank 48, KemPom 63).  Again, this is a favorable match up this time with big Josh Scott as the key.  UCLA at home against teams that rely on bigs is in decent shape.

3.  at UC Berkeley  (BPI Rank 32, KemPom 32).  This is not a favorable matchup.  Cal is the athletic type of team that gives UCLA fits and this is on the road where Bryce shoots like crap and Steve has never swept a road trip.  Almost certain loss.

4.  at Stanford (BPI 97, KemPom 112).  This is game that UCLA should win, maybe must win.  Stanford is not good.  I wish the games were in the opposite order.  At home this is a lock UCLA win.  This is the only game that may be variable.

5.  Oregon (BPI 24, KemPom 21).  If you think UCLA has to go 5-1 this is the game that is the key.  If UCLA performs as they should have to this point, a win here would boost UCLA's BPI and put us in barring a loss in the next two.  I think a win here could even make up for a Stanford loss.  This is definitely the game to circle on the calendar.  The problem of course is Oregon is very athletic and an offense first team that could give us fits.  Playing smart (slowing down the game) and dominating inside are our best hopes.  Bottom line, if UCLA wins this game a tourney bid is not just possible, maybe likely.

6.  Oregon State (BPI 70, KemPom 70).  There is no reason that UCLA should lose to Oregon State.  The Beavers have a great player but come on.  This is one we have to win and should.

So UCLA has a shot of going to the tournament still, unbelievably.  UCLA has to win the next two or it is over.  UC Berkeley is a lock loss.  Interestingly, a loss to Stanford coupled with a win over Oregon could get UCLA in going 4-2.  So, yes if UCLA wins all its remaining home games and a game at the PAC tournament UCLA could slip into the tournament again.

Go Bruins!