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UCLA men’s basketball enters NCAA tournament as No. 11 seed

By Kevin Bowman

March 15, 2015 4:49 p.m.

Following a fourth-place finish in the Pac-12 and a semifinal exit at the Pac-12 tournament, UCLA (20-13) sent the college basketball world into a tizzy Sunday as it made it into the NCAA tournament as an 11th seed.

UCLA will take on No. 6-seeded Southern Methodist University (27-6), led by legendary coach Larry Brown, in Louisville, Ky., on Thursday.

Considered by nearly every tournament expert as a bubble team on the outside looking in, UCLA’s selection drew the ire of many bracketologists.

“UCLA safely in is a joke to me,” said CBS Sports analyst Doug Gottlieb during Sunday’s NCAA tournament selection show. “It makes no sense.”

The Bruins’ resume certainly had some holes in it, as they went 4-9 against other tournament teams, suffered a five-game losing streak midway through the year and were on the wrong end of a lopsided 83-44 loss to No. 1 Kentucky early in the season.

Still, UCLA improved during Pac-12 play, finishing the conference season undefeated at home, beating tournament-bound teams in Utah and Oregon and twice giving a highly ranked Arizona team significant problems.

Scott Barnes, NCAA tournament selection committee chairman and Utah State athletics director, said UCLA’s strength of schedule, as well as how closely it played against Arizona, factored into the selection.

“We tracked UCLA over the last month or so, felt like they were gaining steam,” Barnes said during the broadcast. “I think the eye test was a plus.”

Joining UCLA in its South Regional in Louisville are No. 3-seeded Iowa State and No. 14-seeded University of Alabama-Birmingham. Should UCLA make it out of the regional, No. 2-seeded Gonzaga would be the likely matchup in the Sweet 16.

Compiled by Kevin Bowman, Bruin Sports senior staff.

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