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The UCLA Bruins will take their chase of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament to the Pac-12 tournament.
The Bruins are the top seed for the annual event inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
UCLA enters Nevada on a 10-game winning streak. The Bruins moved that run to double digits with a win over the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday. Arizona is the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 tournament.
The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds won six of the last eight Pac-12 tournaments. Arizona won as the top seed last year with a championship game triumph over second-seeded UCLA.
Arizona and UCLA have been the class of the Pac-12 all season, and it would come as no surprise if both teams land in Saturday’s final.
UCLA’s chase of a No. 1 seed is one of two pursuits that will take place in Las Vegas. The Arizona State Sun Devils and Oregon Ducks will try to do enough to land spots on the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble.
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UCLA needs to win the Pac-12 tournament to make the best case possible to land a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The Bruins were listed as the fifth overall team on the latest bracket projection from ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. UCLA is ranked second overall on KenPom and it is fourth in the NET rankings.
The only quality win that UCLA can gain in Las Vegas is against Arizona in the final. Arizona and the USC Trojans, who are on the bottom side of the bracket, are the two other projected teams in the field of 68 from the Pac-12.
UCLA suffered four losses all season, one each to Arizona and USC in Pac-12 play, and to the Illinois Fighting Illini and Baylor Bears in nonconference play.
Mick Cronin’s team has not faced many challenges from the teams outside the top three in Pac-12, and that likely means it will make a run to the final.
Oregon must beat UCLA to feel more comfortable about its position on the NCAA tournament bubble. The Ducks reside on Lunardi’s “Next Four Out” line as of Saturday.
Dana Altman’s team lost twice to the Bruins by a combined 16 points in the regular season, so that may be too much of a challenge to deal with.
Arizona State has to play an extra game in Las Vegas as the No. 6 seed. The Sun Devils are on Lunardi’s “First Four Out” line.
ASU lost to USC by three points on Saturday night. The Sun Devils need to beat the Trojans in the quarterfinals to feel somewhat safe on the bubble.
Consecutive wins over USC and Arizona would get Arizona State into the field of 68, but it is 1-5 against the Pac-12’s best teams and the one win came on a buzzer beater against Arizona.
The bottom six teams in the Pac-12 finished with a league record under .500 and it seems unlikely that any of those programs will make it past the quarterfinal round.
The Pac-12 seems to have the best chance of any league to stick to chalk and have the top two seeds meet in the final, which has happened six times since 2014.
UCLA flexed its dominance against Arizona in the regular-season finale at Pauley Pavilion, and we could see more of the same from the Bruins as they try to land on the top seed line on Selection Sunday.
Prediction: UCLA over Arizona