After finishing in third place in the Pac-12 and as a semifinalist in the conference tournament, UCLA men’s basketball received the South Region’s No. 3 seed for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
The Bruins (29-4, 15-3 Pac-12) will face No. 14-seeded Kent State (22-13, 10-8 Mid-American Conference) in the first round in Sacramento. The Golden Flashes, who finished fourth in the MAC East are led by senior forward Jimmy Hall, who averages 18.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, and sophomore guard Jaylin Walker, who scores 15.6 points per game.
The other top-four seeds in UCLA’s regional are No. 1 North Carolina, No. 2 Kentucky and No. 4 Butler. If UCLA advances to the second round, it will face the winner of No. 6 Cincinnati and whoever takes the First Four matchup between Kansas State and Wake Forest.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi projected UCLA as the East Regional’s No. 3 seed, while the NCAA selection committee pegged the Bruins as No. 15 in its first-ever top-16 seed bracket in February.
This year marks coach Steve Alford’s third NCAA Tournament berth in four years in Westwood. UCLA’s last appearance in the tournament was as a No. 11 seed in 2015, when it upset No. 6 SMU 60-59 and defeated No. 14 University of Alabama at Birmingham 92-75 before falling to No. 2 Gonzaga 74-62 in the Sweet Sixteen. In 2014, the Bruins also reached the Sweet Sixteen as a No. 4 seed, but lost to the top-seeded Florida Gators.
Three other Pac-12 teams also earned berths in the tournament. Arizona earned the No. 2 seed in the West Regional and will face the No. 15 seed, and Oregon is the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Regional and will take on No. 14 Iona. USC is the East Regional’s No. 11 seed and faces No. 11 Providence in a First Four match.