Amid UCLA's mediocrity this season, Ben Howland discussed the only way that the Bruins can make it to the NCAA Tournament.
"What we’re going to have to do to make the [NCAA] tournament is win the Pac-12 tournament," Howland said to ESPN. "That’s very clear."
Winning the conference tournament would guarantee the Bruins a NCAA bid regardless of their overall or conference performance.
If UCLA were to win all of its remaining games this season and win the Pac-12 regular-season title they would finish at 24-7; however, Howland doesn't think that it would be enough to get the Bruins into the tournament.
"Not with our RPI right now," Howland elaborated.
UCLA currently has a RPI of .503 (ranked No. 146) and has only defeated six Division I teams. The Bruins recently set off on a bad foot in the Pac-12 by losing their first two conference openers.
Leading scorer Lazeric Jones concurred with Coach Howland, explaining that the Bruins' current resume will not impress the selection committee.
"After you lose all the games that we lost and you haven’t got those big wins that you need, we know that we have to win the Pac-12," Jones said. "It starts now. We have to start to step up."
The Bruins dropped games to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee to begin the season and did not stack up well against Top 25 opponents Kansas and Michigan.
Jones has been a key player on the Bruins squad and has been one of the only consistent offensive producers as of late.
After a five-game win streak to close out their non-conference play, the Bruins have lost two straight games and looked flustered in their most-recent 85-69 loss against California.
The Bruins have shown flares of excellent play during the season and have improved much, but have unfortunately reverted back to their early season chaotic play at times.
UCLA will look for its first Pac-12 victory against Arizona on January 5, which will be the Bruins' first game of the new year.