Before we discuss the possibility of UCLA making the NCAA Tournament, let's look at the Bruins victory over Cal.
Key Takeaways from UCLA's 61-60 Win over Cal
Strong Start & Key Contributors: The Bruins controlled the first half, building a 35-24 halftime lead thanks to the UCLA defensive efforts of forcing turnovers and key scoring from Dylan Andrews (12 points) and Adem Bona (13 points).
Overcoming Second Half Struggles: Cal came back strong in the second, fueled by Fardaws Aimaq's double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds) and Jaylon Tyson's scoring (16 points). UCLA lost the lead momentarily but maintained composure and finding a way to win late with excellent defense and clutch free throws.
Clutch Plays down the stretch: Andrews hit a crucial jumper with 12 seconds left, giving UCLA the lead for good. Sebastian Mack also hit a free throw to seal the win despite both teams missing multiple key free throws late in the game.
Close & Thrilling Victory for the Bruins: An intense and close finish showed resilience from the young Bruin team, highlighting UCLA's ability to close out tight games and their never-say-lose attitude this past couple of weeks.
UCLA Win Streak Extends: This win marks UCLA's fifth straight and solidifies their position in the Pac-12 standings, as the Bruins are currently tied for third place with Oregon with both teams having a 8-5 conference record.
Over coming struggles making field goals in the second half: Despite struggling offensively, UCLA's defense played a crucial role in securing the win despite going long stretches in the seocnd half not making field goals.
UCLA getting the Golden Bears in foul trouble: Cal's Aimaq fouling out in the final minutes significantly impacted their comeback attempt and UCLA had no players with more than three fouls during the game.
Teamrankings.com have UCLA only having a 1.8% chance of making the NCAA Tournment at this time. However, if the Bruins continue winning games and if you look at their overall outlook UCLA has a much better chance of making the tournament like they did in 2021 when they had a 17-9 overall record and make it into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 11 seed and played in the play-in game in Dayton, OH.
UCLA has seven more scheduled games as well as the games they will play potentially in the Pac-12 tournament. They currently have six Quadrant two wins but they are 0-6 in Quad one games at this time.
They have upcoming games against teams currently ranked in the top 50 in the NET rankings against Colorado (39), Utah (47), Washington State (40), and Arizona (3). Also, five of their seven remaining regular season games are at home and if the Bruins can win six of these last seven games, UCLA will put them in great position to make the NCAA Tournament.
UCLA will also at minimum have to make it to the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament but if they can secure the number two or even number three seed for the conference tournament, the Bruins will put them in great position to make the tournament.