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Arizona, UCLA among top 16 seeds in first official NCAA Tournament bracket projection

Feb 19, 2022

With March Madness approaching, the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee announced its in-season top 16 seeds for the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

While the official bracket selections won't be made until Sunday, March 19, these initial projections give fans a real look at where their teams stand heading into the final weeks of the regular season.

Arizona (23-2 overall, 13-1 Pac-12) was projected as the No. 1 seed in the South region, as well as the No. 3 national seed, only behind Gonzaga and Auburn.

If the Wildcats hold that position, they would become the Pac-12's first No. 1 seed since 2016 (Oregon) and 17th since seeding began in 1979. Arizona has been a No. 1 seed six times previously (1988, 1989, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2014).

Tom Burnett, the head of the committee, said there isn't much separation between Arizona, Gonzaga and Auburn. That means the Wildcats still have a chance to earn the No. 1 seed in the West Regional, which will be hosted by the Pac-12 at the Chase Center in San Francisco from March 24-26. 

"Gonzaga and Auburn in the committee room, very close. Razor thin," Burnett said on CBS. "They have different opportunities, but very close in the room. Likewise, I would tell you that between Auburn and Arizona, that’s also razor thin. A lot of discussion between those two teams for the No. 2 overall seed."

Burnett noted that Arizona has had a "fantastic" season so far, with its only two losses being on the road to UCLA and Tennessee, which is the No. 3 seed in Arizona's projected region.

As of Saturday, the Wildcats ranked No. 2 in the NCAA NET rankings.

UCLA, meanwhile, was projected as the No. 4 seed in the Midwest region, checking in as the No. 14 overall seed.

The Bruins (18-5, 10-4), who are 13th in the NET rankings, will be looking to make another deep postseason run after reaching the Final Four last season.