UCLA men’s basketball earns No. 4 seed in NCAA Tournament
Members of UCLA men’s basketball gather on the court during a game against Long Beach State on Nov. 15. The Bruins enter the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin staff)
By Jon Christon
March 13, 2022 3:48 p.m.
This post was updated March 14 at 10:51 p.m.
The Bruins will begin their March Madness run in the Pacific Northwest.
UCLA men’s basketball (25-7, 15-5 Pac-12) earned a No. 4 seed in the East region of the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday – its highest seed in the Big Dance since earning a No. 3 seed in 2017. The blue and gold will take on No. 13 seed Akron (24-9, 14-6 MAC) in the Round of 64 on Thursday in Portland, Oregon.
With the selection, the Bruins have made their second consecutive tournament, with coach Mick Cronin going to his 11th straight dance.
“The season starts tomorrow (Monday) for us, when we get to practice,” Cronin said. “It’s exciting.”
Should the Bruins advance, they will play in Philadelphia in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. The three teams ranked ahead of UCLA in the region are No. 1 seed Baylor, No. 2 seed Kentucky and No. 3 seed Purdue. If the bracket goes chalk in round one, UCLA will match up against No. 5 seed Saint Mary’s in the Round of 32.
Cronin said his team is not looking ahead to future matchups, instead taking it game by game.
“You’re never going to know who you’re going to play anyway,” Cronin said. “You can look at it, but you may not play that guy.”
In 2021, the Bruins were selected as a No. 11 seed and competed in the First Four, winning five straight games and making a run to the Final Four.
UCLA is coming off a loss to Arizona – which earned a No. 1 seed in the South region – in the Pac-12 championship game Saturday. Despite the loss, the Bruins are winners of eight of their last 10 games.
“I feel like we’re very together right now and connected, and I think that’s the biggest thing going into the tournament,” said junior guard Johnny Juzang. “(We’re) also confident. It’s a good feeling to have and to be aware of.”
In addition to UCLA and Arizona, USC is the other Pac-12 team to make the tournament, clocking in as a No. 7 seed.
The Bruins earned the No. 4 seed despite ranking 10th in the NET rankings and eighth in KenPom rating, two rankings the NCAA Tournament committee uses to decide seeds. UCLA is 5-4 against Quad 1 opponents, another factor in seeding.
“You can look at the metrics all you want, but at the end of the day, it’s basketball, and ranking really doesn’t matter,” said junior guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. “We’re out there to go play, and we’re trying to win a national championship.”
The Bruins and Zips will tip off Thursday at 6:50 p.m.