Alford likes UCLA's chances of making the NCAA Tournament
LAS VEGAS -- After UCLA nearly knocked Arizona out of the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament for the third consecutive year Friday, Bruins coach Steve Alford told reporters he thinks his team should be in the NCAA Tournament.
"I don't think there's any question," Alford said, when asked whether his team merits an at-large bid. "Obviously, it's March Madness, so there's a lot that goes into it. But I think there'll be 31 or 32 at-large teams [invited]. There's no way there's 31 at-large teams better than what we are."
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Arizona coach Sean Miller also was asked whether UCLA is worthy of an at-large bid. "No question about it," he said, adding that the Bruins are among "four or five" Pac-12 teams who not only could be in the tournament, but are capable of winning a game once they get there.
"I think [UCLA's] quality of play and who they are today would be much different than, for example, who they would have been in December, November," Miller said.
UCLA surrendered a seven-point lead in the second half of Friday's loss to the Wildcats, ranked 5th in the latest AP Top 25. But the Bruins have won four of their last five games to put themselves in the NCAA Tournament conversation.
Alford elaborated on the Bruins' case as follows:
"We're in a great league," Alford said. "We finished fourth in the league outright by two games. And we got to the semifinals. We avoided any bad losses. No upsets along the way on our behalf. Our guys kept fighting. So I think we're very deserving.
"But we'll have to wait until Sunday to see."