UCLA, USC and Cal State Fullerton all learned on Selection Sunday where they will start their NCAA tournament journeys.
The Bruins (25-7) are the No. 4 seed in the East Region and will open against No. 13 Akron (24-9) Thursday in Portland, Ore. If UCLA wins, it will face the winner of the No. 5 St. Mary’s (25-7) vs. No. 12 Wyoming or Indiana matchup on Saturday in Portland.
USC (26-7) is the No. 7 seed in the Midwest Region and will face No. 10 Miami (23-10) Friday in Greenville, SC If the Trojans advance, they would face the winner of No. 2 Auburn (27-5) vs. No. 15 Jacksonville State (21-10) Sunday at Greenville.
And Cal State Fullerton (21-10), the only other Los Angeles area team to make the field, is the No. 15 seed in the West Region and will face No. 2 Dukes (28-6) at Greenville Friday. It will be Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final NCAA tournament appearance after announcing his retirement at the end of this season.
UCLA flirts with a no. 3 seed and a chance to open the tournament in nearby San Diego, but Texas Tech (25-9) ultimately locked up the spot. The Bruins proved last season they could overcome seeding challenges, going from a First Four matchup to the Final Four.
Gonzaga, which beat UCLA in the Final Four last season, is the No. 1 overall seed atop the bracket. Arizona, which defeated the Bruins in the Pac-12 tournament championship Saturday night, Baylor and Kansas clinched the other No. 1 seed.
Dayton, Okahoma, SMU and Texas A&M were the last four teams out and were designated first-round replacement teams if any school in field has to withdraw due to COVID-19 issues.
Thirty-one teams received automatic bids and 37 teams comprised the rest of the at-large pool. The tournament tips off Tuesday at 3:30 pm PDT in Dayton, Ohio, with the First Four games. The first round starts Thursday at 9 am PDT.
A year after the NCAA tournament was staged in a bubble in Indianapolis because of COVID-19 concerns, the games are returning to regional sites across the country.