Now, that is not to say the road will be easy. The Bruins are certainly out of any consideration for an at-large bid, with a record barely over .500 and with some incredibly rough losses on the season. But, thanks to a loss last night by the Oregon State Beavers, UCLA finds itself tied for third in the Pac-12 Conference, which if results hold would give them a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. For any team hoping to earn the Pac-12’s automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament, a first round bye is a necessity, especially given the glut that is the middle of this sad, sad conference.
All of which creates a situation where the Bruins find themselves on a road trip that could decide their season, starting tonight with a match up against the Colorado Buffaloes. The last game between these two was not kind to the Bruins, an 84-73 home loss that was not nearly as close as the final score would indicate. The Buffaloes should also be plenty motivated for this game; a home sweep of the LA schools could be enough to slide the Buffaloes into a top-4 seed.
On paper, this game should be good. Both teams are well-rested, having each only played one game last week. UCLA is the hotter team in the short term, having won four of their last five games, but Colorado has won 6 of their last 8, with those two losses coming on the road to the Washington schools a few weeks ago. Colorado will be looking to buck a trend, as the Bruins have yet to lose the first game in any conference road trip this season, while the Bruins are looking to avenge that loss at Pauley Pavilion last month.