There is really one thing that will get UCLA an NCAA tournament bid: The win over Kansas. Without it, they'd be 18-12 with only one big non-conference win over Alabama. And that Alabama win was quite a long time ago. The Georgetown win and Stanford road win don't look like much now. But I think UCLA can bank on that win over Kansas pretty much getting them a nod for the NCAA tourney.
So even though statistically UCLA looks like a bubble team at 19-11 and 8-9 in their last 17 games, they're realistically not a bubble team and almost a shoe-in for the NCAA tournament. Their RPI is also anywhere from a 23-27 and strength of schedule is a 9 (this is before the Pac-10 tournament).
So, given all of this information let's try to project where UCLA will be seeded in the NCAA tournament.
UCLA was projected before Thursday from a 7 to a 9 seed by sports new services:
ESPN -- 8 seed
CBS Sportsline – 7 seed
CollegeRPI.com – 9 seed
Sporting News – 7 seed
USA Today – 8 seed
Fox Sports – 8 seed
The significant difference here is the jump between being a 6 or 7 seed and being an 8 or 9 seed. A 6 seed faces an 11 seed in the first round, and then a 3 seed in the second round. A 7 seed faces a 10 seed in the first round and a 2 seed in the second round. 8 and 9 seeds face each other in the first round and a 1 seed in the second round.
UCLA, though, it's probably pretty safe to say, is a six seed at best, which more than likely makes them an underdog in any second-round game. Being a six or seven seed is still a pretty tough road to the Sweet 16. As a six seed, you'd face teams like Utah, Boston College and Pepperdine as potential 11 seeds. If you get past the first round, you'd be looking at someone like Illinois, Kentucky or Gonzaga. If UCLA is a 7 seed, the typical 10 seed might be NC State, Hawaii or Wake Forest in the first round, with all three being tough matchups for this Bruin team. The second round would present a team like Oregon, Pittsburg or Cincinnati.
It's likely the loss to Cal in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament will move UCLA down to an 8 or 9 seed. If so, it gets quite a bit tougher. UCLA would face someone like Notre Dame, St. John's or Xavier in the first round. In the second round, well, you'd get Duke, Kansas or Maryland.
You can almost bet that UCLA will be shipped out of the west, which makes the first two rounds even tougher. The Bruins could be facing playing a team in the first round in front of that team's fans. At the very least, it's tough for a west coast team to travel east and succeed.
No matter how you look at it, UCLA's performance in the Pac-10 conference and in the Pac-10 tournament dramatically hurt their chances of getting a good seed and its chances of advancing far in the NCAA tournament.