Here’s what’s at stake for UCLA at the Pac-12 tournament

What’s going on here can earn University of California at Los Angeles return trip in two weeks.

All it takes is to brush off the Bruins’ troubles about the absence of Jalen Clark and how that might affect their NCAA Tournament seeding.

Mick Cronin didn’t look the least bit bothered when the reporter told the coach that he was talking to ESPN bracket analyst Joe Lunardi about the alleged need to win the Pac-12 tournament to get number 1 seed

– Who did you talk to? Cronin asked on Tuesday.

“Joe Lunardi,” the reporter replied.

“I don’t know who it is,” Cronin replied calmly.

ESPN, the reporter continued.

“Yes,” said Cronin, “I have no comment on that. I’d rather you talk to my dad, someone who really understands basketball.”

Hep Cronin, the Bruins’ unofficial good luck charm dating back to their 2021 Final Four run, is expected to be among the coach’s family members who will be in attendance at T-Mobile Arena when UCLA’s top seed (27-4) will play Washington. or Colorado. in the quarter-finals at noon on Thursday.

He will see the team that wins 10 games in a row rise to the top spot. 2 in the country even if the Bruins are silently mourning Clark’s loss to a shin injury that could sideline him for the entire postseason.

On the other hand, Mick Cronin remained upbeat when asked if his team’s high ratings and the indefinite loss of his top defenseman were worrying as the Bruins attempt to follow a runaway Pac-12 regular season championship with their first conference tournament title since 2014.

“No, hell no,” Cronin said. “… Tonight we’re going to Topgolf to have some fun in Vegas. You know, it’s time to let go, it’s time to trust your team, it’s not the time to worry.”

Whining jokes and smiling so often you half expected him to say that the rest of his team’s itinerary would include Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil instead of the Pac-12 tournament, Cronin was clearly trying to keep his spirits up. . The heavy stuff will come soon enough.

Clark’s absence will be the main storyline, no matter how long the Bruins last in the tournament. The Pac-12 quarterback of the year did not travel with the team, Cronin said he would provide the NCAA tournament selection committee with more information about Clark’s status going forward if the committee asked.

Shyness can have its benefits. Cronin was an assistant coach for Cincinnati Bob Huggins in 2000 when the committee demoted the Bearcats to the No. 1. 2 seed after star Kenyon Martin broke his leg in the Conference USA tournament in a loss to St. Louis. Louis.

The committee acknowledged that seeing so little of the Bearcats since Martin’s injury limited their ability to appreciate how different they were without the National College Player of the Year, but that didn’t stop them from punishing the team.

Cincinnati lost to No. 7 seeded Tulsa in the second round.

Earlier this week, Lunardi said the committee would be watching closely to see how the Bruins fared without Clark. They will surely see more David SingletonDylan Andrews, Will McClendon and possibly even Abramo Kanka, whose roles are expected to expand when Clark is suspended.

“I told Abramo, Dylan and Will, guys like before the Jaylen incident, to be ready,” the UCLA forward said. Jaime Jaques Jr., Pac-12 Player of the Year. “You never know, it’s the craziest time of the year, we need you guys to be ready, you’re here for a reason, you’re here to help us win games.”

A good performance at the T-Mobile Arena could ensure a successful comeback for UCLA. The West Regional will be held in the same building, giving Bruins fans another chance to gather.

Their recent memories weren’t good, Bruins. dropping games in a row against Illinois and Baylor in November in a non-conference tournament.

“I’ve been thinking about it and maybe we’ll play three games in Vegas this week,” UCLA Center. Good Adam said. “That’s why I want to increase the score to 3-2.”

This means that there will be three of them, two will remain in a couple of weeks.

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