UCLA women’s basketball set to return to NCAA Tournament stage with a No. 4 seed

This post was updated March 12 at 6:35 p.m.

After the Bruins’ upset victory over No. 1 seed Stanford in the Pac-12 tournament semifinal, senior guard Charisma Osborne described the run as their quest for vengeance.

Following a 2022 campaign in which the Bruins neglected to receive a March Madness bid, No. 17 UCLA women’s basketball (​​25-9, 11-7 Pac-12) received a No. 4 seed in the Greenville Regional 1 bracket, as announced on ESPN’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show. With Sunday’s news, the Bruins will have the opportunity to contend for their postseason retribution.

“This day never gets old,” said coach Cori Close. 

The Bruins will face off against No. 13 seed Sacramento State in the first round of the tournament Saturday in Pauley Pavilion, and if the contest is ruled in favor of UCLA, it will meet the winner of No. 5 seed Oklahoma and No. 12 seed Portland on March 20 also in Westwood. 

Saturday’s contest will mark Sacramento State’s first time competing in March Madness on either the men’s or the women’s side.

This will also mark the first NCAA Tournament for freshman guard Kiki Rice and the rest of the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation. 

“I’m definitely excited,” Rice said. “Obviously, it’s going to be a new experience for me, but I have no doubt that everyone will prepare me.”

Also headlining the blue and gold’s region is defending national champion and No. 1 seed South Carolina. The Bruins are one of the seven Pac-12 squads that will be competing in March Madness, as No. 1 seed Stanford, No. 2 seed Utah, No. 5 seed Washington State, No. 6 seed Colorado, No. 7 seed Arizona and No. 8 seed USC also punched a ticket to the Big Dance on Sunday.

Osborne emphasized that the competition of the Pac-12 tournament has been assisting the Bruins in their growth going into March Madness.

“We’ve just earned so much confidence,” Osborne said.

UCLA completed the 2021-2022 season with a .500 record in the conference and was swiftly sent home in the second round of the Pac-12 tournament against Oregon. The Bruins’ postseason consolation was an at-large bid to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, where they fell to South Dakota State in the semifinals. 

During the 2022-2023 campaign, the Bruins finished with an 11-7 mark in the Pac-12 regular season and accomplished a pair of upset victories against Arizona and Stanford to emerge as the Pac-12 tournament runners-up to Washington State on March 5. 

Close added that heading into UCLA’s first NCAA Tournament since 2021 – when the Bruins lost in the Round of 32 – the blue and gold are preparing to take it one step at a time, beginning with focusing on its first opponent.

“Let’s go earn some more respect,” Close said.“Let’s go earn some more opportunities. We’re just going to be focused on going 1-0 in practice on Tuesday.”

UCLA will tip off against Sacramento State in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday. 

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