Steve Alford (USA Today)

How UCLA Could Close Out Its Season

Feb. 18 -- Here's our take on how UCLA could finish up the regular season heading into the Pac-12 Tournament...

Eye-balling it, I think this is how the Pac-12 race could shake out. 

Washington is currently 7-6.  Guesses:   W v Cal;  W v Stan; W @ OSU;  L @ OR;  W v. WSU.  Finish: 11-7

Utah is currently 8-5.   Guesses: L @ UCLA; L @ USC; W v ASU;  L v AZ: W v Col.  Finish: 10-8

Cal is currently 7-5. Guesses:  L @ WA; W @ WSU;  W v UCLA; L v. USC:  L @ AZ;  W @ ASU.  Finish: 10-8.

UCLA is currently 5-7. Guesses:   W v. Utah; W v. Col;  L @ Cal;  W @ Stan;  W v. OR;  W V. OSU.   Finish: 10-8

Obviously the big guess here is that UCLA beats Oregon at Pauley and, well, sweeps the mountain schools this weekend.  But even if they drop one of those three, I could still see them picking up a win @ Cal.   The thing is, when you compare its talent to its remaining opponents, UCLA is either 1) more talented or 2) comparably talented and playing at home, in all of these games except the Cal game.  

The other big guess is that Cal loses to USC at home.  

If this all occurs, Washington then finishes 4th, and there is a three-team tie for 5th. 

Determining the Pac-12 Tournament seeding, then, among the three teams tied for 5th, here they are head-to-head:

Cal  2-1
Utah 1-1
UCLA 1-1

So, the next tie breaker then is how each team does against the league's top teams.  UCLA is 1-1 against AZ and Utah would be 0-1. 

So, UCLA gets the tournament's 6th seed. 

What it does roughly mean is that UCLA, even if it finished strong at 5-1, would probably still only get the 6th seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. 

The 6th seed plays the 11th seed in the first round, and then, winner gets the #3 seed in the quarterfinals, which would probably be Oregon or USC. 

Also, as Typhoon pointed out:  in this scenario, UCLA finishes 19-12, and most likely 20-13...on the bubble with likely enough good wins to squeak into the NCAA tourney. 

I know, that was a huge amount of work with so much left uncertain. But once I got going I couldn't stop.

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