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Cronin says UCLA seed in NCAA bracket preview is ‘comic’

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LOS ANGELES – 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 top seed “comic” .

First-ranked Alabama was voted the committee’s top seed overall. The no. 2 of Houston, the No. 3 by Purdue and No. 5 from Kansas were selected as the No. 5 seeds.

#8 Arizona was selected as the sixth seed overall, while fourth-ranked UCLA was eighth. The Pac-12 rivals will meet on March 4 in their regular season finale. The Wildcats beat the Bruins 58-52 last month.

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

Cronin attributed the Bruins’ expected seed to the announcement last summer that UCLA and USC will leave the Pac-12 to join the Big Ten in 2024.

“When we left Pac-12, it cost a lot of people millions of dollars and there would have been 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 consequences like a lame duck.”

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

Meanwhile, Arizona (24-4, 13-4) was placed in the West, to be played in Las Vegas, with Kansas, #12 seed Kansas State and #15 seed Gonzaga.

“We showed a couple of years ago that your suit 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 scorer Jaime Jaquez Jr. said he was unaware of the preview bracket announcement.

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

The bracket preview show aired on CBS.

Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament is March 12.

AP college basketball: ee

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