By: Garrett Giles
Dear Fellow Bracketeers,
Everyone lets the better seed proceed when they fill out their March Madness brackets, but little do they know that the bracket projections are meant to screw them over. I must admit that I have fallen to this before, but I believe that over the years I have learned that projections don’t mean anything!
Yes, you read that correctly. They don’t mean anything. Then why I am I talking about them? That’s because I believe Joe Lunardi’s and any other bracketologist is out of their minds to project the UCLA Bruins a three-seed in the tournament!
The UCLA Bruins (27-3, 14-3) are third in the Pac-12 standings right not sure, but they’re only a game behind Arizona who is tied for first with Oregon (26-4, 15-2). UCLA has even beaten the Wildcats and the Ducks outright towards the end of this current season including 82-79 win over #5 Oregon and a 77-72 win over #4 Arizona.
To make matters worse, the Bruins are currently #3 in the country while Oregon comes in at #6. I’m not even worried about Arizona because they’re projected to be a three-seed like UCLA and I agree with that one, but to project the UCLA Bruins to be in that same position is disrespectful.
What blows my mind is the fact that Oregon’s strength of schedule when simply looking at their schedule, seems weaker than UCLA’s. Oregon lost early games to Baylor (unranked at the time) and Georgetown (who’s not even projected to make the tournament), but to their credit they turned things around and didn’t lose a game until Jan. 28 against Colorado 74-65. They would later lose to UCLA on Feb. 9, which was their last loss.
On the other hand, you have UCLA who has only suffered losses to conference opponents like Oregon, Arizona, and USC 84-76. Three losses to Oregon’s four. Okay, so what about the non-conference schedule for UCLA? Well, this includes wins over: Nebraska (82-71), Texas A&M (74-67), then #1 Kentucky (97-92), Michigan (102-84), and Ohio State (86-73). Granted, only two of those teams are going to the tournament (Michigan and Kentucky), but those non-conference wins are more impressive than Oregon’s wins over Tennessee, Alabama, UCONN, and Boise State. Heck, even Arizona had more impressive competition than Oregon with games like Gonzaga (L), Butler (L), Michigan State (W), and Texas A&M (W). The difference? Arizona has one win over a non-conference team projected to make the tournament. Oregon has none.
The reality of this article is this: what you just read doesn’t matter.
Yes, you read that correctly. It doesn’t matter. Why? Because Oregon is going to be the two-seed and UCLA is going to get stuck with the three-seed. Projections are normally the unpleasant and startling truth to a process no one will ever understand unless your part of the selection committee. We can make predictions all day long, but at the end of the day, it’s what the team does in the tournament that matters.
My projection: UCLA gets the three-seed deserving of a two- or a one-seed. They, however, will be in this years Final Four with a legit chance of winning it all behind the stellar play of Lonzo Ball, a kid who should make a ton of noise in the NBA someday soon. The only thing to be concerned about is that they don’t let their terrible seeding get to their head like Mizzou did when they lost to Norfolk State. They have the talent; they just need to focus on winning one game at a time.
That’s my projection. Take it as you will. Remember, it doesn’t matter what I say. I’m simply a guide. What matters is your decision, and your faith in the teams your choosing. Have faith in your choices and don’t let other people tell you otherwise what is the best decision. Again, this is my reasoning, and you don’t have to except it. Focus on your reasoning to with what’s know. So the question is: What’s your reasoning?