UCLA Basketball: Bracketology and bubble watch… are the Bruins in trouble?

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 20: Aaron Holiday
KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 20: Aaron Holiday /

With five games left in the season for the UCLA basketball team, the Bruins are in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament. There is a chance they could sneak in, albeit with a weak resume, and that could give them a tough start to the Big Dance.

The UCLA basketball team was in great position to flex their muscles and thicken up their resume after their win over Arizona in Tucson. It was a great victory, one that boosted their image among many college basketball pundits.

UCLA Bruins: 17-8, 8-5 (2nd in Pac-12), Strength of Schedule (59), RPI (52), KenPom (49)

And then two days later they played Arizona State and once again the consistently inconsistent Bruins showed up. Playing against ASU without the energy they had against Arizona definitely hurt UCLA, but we should not expect anything different from the Bruins.

The Bruins have shown that they can play up to teams and play down to teams they should beat. It is even worse knowing that UCLA has a much more talented roster than most PAC-12 schools (I would say that is possible on a national-level as well)..

That has been a big problem and it’s one that could keep them out of the NCAA Tournament.

Bracketolgy Predictions

  • Bleacher Report – UCLA is one of the ‘First Five Out’
  • CBS – UCLA is ranked 10th in the East, sharing an opening weekend bracket with #2 Duke
  • ESPN – UCLA is ranked 11th in the West and set to face Kansas State in the play-in game, sharing an opening weekend bracket with #3 Clemson
  • SB Nation – UCLA is ranked 11th in the Midwest and set to face Texas in the play-in game, sharing an opening weekend bracket with #3 Clemson

Just by looking at these results, we can concluded that UCLA is on the bubble and need several solid wins in their last five regular season games (or win the Pac-12 Tournament outright) to solidify a spot in the BIg Dance. The Bruins have also made improvements as the season has gone on, but is it too late to prove they are worthy?

More from Go Joe Bruin

A win against ASU would have turned heads as the Bruins would have gotten that all-important road sweep. Not to mention defeating two teams that have been in the AP Top 25 more often than not. Instead of being two games behind conference-leading Arizona, UCLA would only be one game back.

But now, many outlets just barely have the Bruins in their Bracketology predictions. Bleacher Report has flat-out said “no way”, and that says something. But it also shows what other outlets think of UCLA by putting them in the play-in game and that is not good, especially for a coach like Steve Alford who is in fifth year with a starting lineup full of former four and five-star recruits.

Anyway, looking forward, UCLA has five games remaining (vs Oregon State, vs Oregon, at Utah, at Colorado and at USC). They have their final two home games this week and finish with three games on the road. That will make boosting their resume a bit difficult. Both Oregon schools have a win on the Bruins, as well as Colorado. They have defeated Utah and USC, but both of those next games are away from Pauley. A bad showing in these last five games would definitely invoke a “POP!”

Next: The UCLA Basketball All-Time Team

It is going to be an interesting stretch toward the end of the season as they try to survive the bubble. UCLA has to gets the wins and if not, they might have to put all their hopes in winning the Pac-12 Tournament and Alford has only managed to do that once in his five years.