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Cronin Says UCLA Seed in NCAA Bracket Preview ‘Comical’

The Division I men’s basketball committee revealed its top 16 teams for next month’s NCAA Tournament on Saturday, and UCLA coach Mick Cronin found his team’s current seeding “comic.”

No. 8 Arizona was picked sixth overall, while fourth-ranked UCLA was eighth. The Pac-12 rivals will meet on March 4 in the regular season finale. The Wildcats beat the Bruins 58-52 last month.

“If you ask my one-word answer to that ranking — comical,” a straight-eyed Cronin said after Bruins routed California 78-43 on Saturday night. “I’ll try not to laugh.”

“When we left the Pac-12, it cost a lot of people millions of dollars and there would be fallout, and I think that’s a direct result,” he said. “I had nothing to do with us leaving the league, but you deal with the fallout being a lame duck.”

The committee placed the 16 teams into the four regions. The Bruins (23-4 overall, 14-2 Pac-12) landed in the East Regional, to be played in New York, along with Purdue, No. 11 overall seed Iowa State and No. 14 overall seed Marquette.

Meanwhile, Arizona (24-4, 13-4) was seeded in the West, to be played in Las Vegas, with Kansas, No. 12 Kansas State and No. 15 Gonzaga.

“A couple of years ago we showed that your seed doesn’t matter,” Cronin said.

In 2021, the 11th-seeded Bruins reached the Final Four before losing in overtime to Gonzaga in the national semifinals.

UCLA’s leading scorer, Jaime Jaquez Jr., said he was not aware the preview had been announced.

“I’m waiting for the last bracket to be excited or not excited,” he said. “Probably excited.”

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