UCLA's Achilles heel heading into March Madness

The Bruins have a big Achilles heel going into March as they need a ton to go their way to even be considered for the NCAA Tournament in 2024.
Feb 24, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA;  UCLA Bruins forward Adem Bona (3) is defended by USC
Feb 24, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; UCLA Bruins forward Adem Bona (3) is defended by USC / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA has many things going against them in terms of their resume to get into the NCAA tournament.

Let's take a look at the Achilles heel from multiple viewpoints.

Achilles heel 1A: Lack of non-conference quadrant one or two wins.

Every quad one or two opponents the Bruins faced in non-conference play, they lost. They lost to Marquette by two and Gonzaga by four points in the Maui Invitational and they followed that up with a single-digit loss on the road to Villanova and a seven-point loss on a neutral court to Ohio State. The last opportunity UCLA had for a quality non-conference win was against Maryland at home and they lost by nine.

The worst part of their non-conference play was a loss at home to Cal State Northridge which is a quad four loss. The NCAA Tournament Committee doesn't count single digit losses against quad one and quad two opponents as a factor to consider when selecting teams for the NCAA tournament.

Achilles heel 1B: Positive momentum lost with three straight losses with two of them being at home.

UCLA had won six straight games and they were victorious in eight of nine games during stretch. Then they lost by one at home to Utah and by six to USC. The worst game that the Bruins had in a while came in their last game where they lost on the road to Washington by 17. Now UCLA is playing on the road again but this time it is against No. 19 ranked Washington State. The Bruins only hope of making the tournament is to win the Pac-12 tournament and they need to regain that positive momentum sooner than later.

Achilles heel 1C: The offense continues to struggle preventing the Bruins from winning close games.

Had UCLA had even an okay offensive performance against USC at home, the Bruins win that game. Even against Utah, a team that beat them badly earlier in the season, had UCLA played well offensively late in the second half, they would have easily won that game. In eight losses, the oppossing team scored less than 70 points and defeated UCLA. Had the Bruins scored 70 or more points in any of those games, their season would look completely different then it is now. UCLA must find ways to score over 70 points in the conference tournament.

What does the middle of March look like for UCLA?

Head coach Mick Cronin does not seem eager to accept any post season tournament invitation except that of the NCAA Tournament. This meaning that UCLA needs to win the Pac-12 tournament or more than likely, their season is over by the middle of March. Can the Bruins go on a run in their conference tournament? Yes, but based on their last three games it seems highly unlikely. UCLA needs to do what Oregon State did in 2021 and win as a lower seeded team. Time will tell and if the Bruins can defeat Washington State on the road, it would help healing their Achilles heel.

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dark. Next. fdsfsdfsdfsdfsdfsd. UCLA's must win games