UCLA, UC Irvine receive at-large bids to NCAA Tournament

Photo courtesy of UCLA athletics

The defending NCAA champions and a four-time NCAA championship program are both heading back to the NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA announced Sunday afternoon that UCLA and UC Irvine received the two at-large bids to round out the eight-team NCAA Tournament field.

UCLA earned the No. 1 overall seed as an at-large bid following a loss to Grand Canyon in the MPSF Tournament finals on Saturday. The Bruins despite the loss remained No. 1 in KPI and RPI, had the nation’s best strength of schedule and had the nation’s best record against teams under NCAA Tournament consideration – all selection criteria categories.

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UC Irvine edged out Hawai’i for the final at-large bid. The Anteaters split the head-to-head series against the Rainbow Warriors and held the advantage in KPI ranking, RPI ranking and strength schedule.

UC Irvine as the No. 4 seed will play the No. 5 seed Penn State in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals. Penn State edged out Ohio State for the No. 5 seed in part because of the two head-to-head victories against the Buckeyes in the first month of the season.

Ohio State will be the No. 6 seed and play the MPSF champions Grand Canyon, which earned the No. 3 seed. The other quarterfinal match in that half of the bracket will feature the No. 2 seed Long Beach State versus the No. 7 seed Belmont Abbey.

Grand Canyon held a better KPI and RPI ranking than Long Beach State. However, Long Beach State had the advantage with a 6-2 record against teams under NCAA Tournament consideration.

Fort Valley State is the only team making first NCAA Tournament appearance in the eight-team field. The Wildcats as the SIAC champions earned the No. 8 seed and will play the Bruins in the quarterfinals.

The NCAA Tournament will begin Tuesday, April 30 at Long Beach State with all four quarterfinal matches. The winners of the quarterfinals will advance to the semifinals on Thursday, May 2, and the finals will be played on Saturday, May 4.

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