UCLA Basketball: Chances the Bruins make the NCAA Tournament

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 21: Thomas Welsh /

Go Joe Bruin takes a look at what the UCLA basketball team’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament are and the competition they are up against.

The UCLA basketball team’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament took a big hit after a tough loss at Utah Thursday night. On Monday, UCLA is sure to drop out of Bracketology expert Joe Lunardi’s “First Four Out.”

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It now looks like UCLA will need to beat Colorado and USC in their final two PAC-12 games plus get at least one victory in the PAC-12 tourney to increase their chances of having their name called on Selection Sunday.

So not only do the Bruins need to take care of business and get at least three more victories, they will need some help from teams that are currently above them. Let’s take a look at some teams the Bruins may need to jump over (or keep behind them) to make the NCAA tournament.

USC Trojans, 20-9 11-5 (2nd in PAC-12)

Win-Loss Projection: vs UCLA 67.2%

Projected Record: 21-10

Of course! Of course the Bruins’ season might come down to their final conference game against their rival. Currently one spot ahead of the Bruins in Bracketology is the USC Trojans. But for the Bruins, this one spot is a very important as the Trojans are currently the final team to get into the NCAA Tournament.

USC demolished a Utah team that beat UCLA and won five games in a row. Next, the Trojans come back home where they will have a week to prepare for the Bruins. Remember too that USC will be without Bennie Boatwright for the remainder of the season after hurting his knee against Oregon. A Trojans loss to the Bruins could open the door for UCLA to get a nod by the tournament committee.

Syracuse Orangemen, 18-11, 7-9 (10th ACC)

Win-Loss Projection: vs North Carolina 34.4%, @ Boston College 48.9%, vs (15) Clemson 47.0%

Projected Record: 18-13

The Orangemen are currently sitting 10th in the ACC and are the last team from the ACC expected to get in. An 18-9 record in the ultra-competitive ACC looks nice for Syracuse but that number in their win column could remain at 18 for the rest of the season.

With four games remaining, Coach Boeheim’s team plays a schedule would put a quick halt on any team’s tournament hopes. Games at 16-win Boston College squad will be sandwiched in between visits from North Carolina and (15) Clemson.

Each of those games will be tough and Syracuse could quickly see their tournament hopes disappear. This is one team that I feel confident about the Bruins being able to jump over, especially after their lose to Duke on Saturday.

Texas Longhorns, 16-12, 6-9 (8th in Big 12)

Win-Loss Projection: @ 8 Kansas 14.9%, vs 21 West Virginia 54.1%

Projected Record: 18-13

The Longhorns missed a big chance to improve their odds of getting into the tournament losing to Kansas State last week. But they made a huge move beating Oklahoma State. Beating either (or both) (21) West Virginia or (8) Kansas would also give them the extra bump they need to pass a team like UCLA.

If they go 3-0, Texas would become the eighth Big-12 predicted to make it into the tournament. On the other hand, Texas could lose all three and be done. I think the Longhorns could go 2-1 here using their size down low and avenging two earlier losses to the Cowboys and Jayhawks. This would give Texas a late signature win, a better seeding in the Big-12 Tournament, and the chance to get to 21 or 22 wins. That could be enough to pass UCLA and possibly keep the Bruins out of the tournament.

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A lot can happen with about two weeks left until conference tournaments get rolling. The Bruins can’t worry about what other teams are doing but need to just take care of their business. Beating Colorado and USC and then getting one win in the PAC-12 tournament should be enough for UCLA to squeak into the NCAA Tournament. Lose one or both games and the Bruins will need to win the PAC-12 tourney to guarantee one of the coveted 68 spots.

(Win-Loss projection data courtesy of ESPN.com)