Bracketology: NCAA Bid Case for UCLA vs. Syracuse

Doug Upstone

Monday, February 12, 2018 3:51 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 3:51 PM UTC

We continue our look at teams that could be on the bubble and which schools should or might get into the NCAA Tournament. Here we will look at two prominent names, UCLA and Syracuse, with a long history of success.

As this article went to post, both these teams had identical records, but Syracuse is thought more highly of playing in the stronger conference and with the higher RPI. However, according to Bracketology dudes Jerry Palm (CBS) and Joe Lunardi (ESPN), they both have UCLA in (10th and 11th seeds, respectively) the field presently. Lunardi has the Orange in his First Four Out, while Palm does not have them in his top 72 teams. Let's dig deeper and see what is required.

UCLA Bruins

Conference: Pac-12 (6th, according to Sagarin Ratings)

Record: 17-8 SU (12-13-1 ATS)

Current RPI: 53

Best Wins: Kentucky, USC and Arizona

Worst Losses: Colorado and @Oregon State

5Dimes Odds To Win NCAA Tournament: +30000

NCAA Tournament History: 106-41 SU (11 championships)

Key Games Remaining: Oregon and @USC

UCLA does not have as many chances to improve its status like Syracuse, which means the Bruins' best course of action is to keep winning. The Bruins have the Oregons for their final two home games, and they need to take care of those. Where it gets treacherous is at Utah and at Colorado, and each is good at home. The Bruins are 5-6 SU and ATS when not playing at Pauley Pavilion. The season finale at rival USC will have large implications.

It is important for UCLA to finish 2nd or 3rd in the Pac-12, giving the Bruins a chance to reach the semifinals in the tournament and quite possibly the finals, which would help their cause immensely. With more weight being given to other resources like KenPom.com, the Bruins are only three spots behind Syracuse for those rankings (49 vs. 46) compared to the RPI.

Though it is not supposed to matter, coach Steve Alford's club passes the eye-test compared to the Orange, and guard Aaron Holiday and center Thomas Welch will catch your attention.

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Syracuse Orange

Conference: ACC (3rd)

Record:17-8 SU (10-13 ATS)

Current RPI: 38

Best Wins: @ Louisville

Worst Losses: St. Bonaventure and Wake Forest

5Dimes Odds To Win NCAA Tournament: +25000

NCAA Tournament History: 65-38 (one championship)

Key Games Remaining: @Miami, North Carolina, Clemson and @Duke

Besides a couple of the edges Syracuse has over UCLA, the Orange also have the strength of schedule overall and nonconference S.O.S. in their favor going forward -- and those will not change. The 'Cuse has a 34 vs. 71 edge on the season in this category against UCLA and 53 vs. 75 margin when playing out of conference.

Coach Jim Boeheim's team has a loaded ACC schedule for the remainder of the regular season. If the Orange could win three of their four remaining key games and beat N.C. State and Boston College, that might be enough to get them into the Big Dance, as long as they win at least one ACC tournament game. A split of the key matchups and 4-2 finish places greater pressure on Syracuse for a deeper conference tourney run.

The other problem for the Orange is the competition just in the ACC, where Louisville, Virginia Tech, N.C. State and Florida State all have similar or better resumes. The 'Cuse is 4-5 SU and ATS outside the Carrier Dome.

Who Goes To The Big Dance?

There are still several areas to think about, yet when thinking about the paths for both clubs UCLA has the easier schedule and more than good enough resume to be included. That is why for college basketball picks the Bruins are in and Syracuse is out, based on their anticipated records.

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