UCLA now has two of the best road wins of any team the nation, having downed Arizona and then-No. 1 Kentucky, which held its ground and beat then-No. 13 Florida on Saturday thanks to another monster outing from Malik Monk. The Bruins also own a recent three-point victory against Oregon. On the year, UCLA has the 15th-best RPI ranking and the 117th-best strength of schedule.


The AP Poll doesn’t mean shit in all of this, by the way, as it’s now merely a measuring tool for writers and fans to know what teams are actually good throughout the regular season. The tournament selection committee does not take it into consideration when they seed, so the fact that UCLA hopped Gonzaga to nab the No. 3 slot in this week’s poll is no indication whatsoever of what the committee will ultimately decide in two weeks.

Gonzaga is still without a doubt one of the best six teams in the nation—on Saturday night’s Arizona-UCLA telecast, one of the announcers started talking about how the Wildcats should want to be a two-seed in the West so they could have a shot at avenging their Dec. 3 loss to the Bulldogs. Trust me: nobody with a functioning brain and eyes wants to face Gonzaga come March. This team is fucking sweet with the ball. They might lose in the Sweet 16 again and fulfill their stereotype, but that doesn’t mean this team isn’t a cut above recent iterations of the Bulldogs.


As it stands now, UNC is leading the race to lock up the South; Villanova owns the East’s top seed; and Kansas claims the Midwest’s. Gonzaga’s loss opens the door in the West, and UCLA, with a well-timed top-5 win, is standing right outside. A similar case could be made for Oregon, as the Ducks are poised to claim the hotly contested regular season Pac-12 title. They also have two very, very bad losses to Georgetown and Colorado, two teams currently a combined 30-28; UCLA’s worst loss is to 21-8 USC.

The challenge now facing the Bruins is to not fuck up against Washington and Washington State and have a solid showing in the Pac-12 tournament; as Gonzaga will tell you, not fucking up is easier said than done.