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UCLA Head Coach Mick Cronin Reacts to Preliminary Top 16

UCLA head coach Mick Cronin finds his team’s current ranking in the Division 1 men’s basketball committee ‘comical’ as they were ranked lower than their current rank. The committee unveiled its top 16 teams for next month’s NCAA Tournament in a preview show aired on CBS on Saturday. The group chose No1 Alabama, No2 Houston, No3 Purdue and defending champions Kansas, who are ranked fifth during the announcement cutoff, as the top seeds for every region. It relegated No4 UCLA in the second quadrant as they were projected as eighth seeds while No8 Arizona were ranked sixth. The Wildcats beat the Bruins, 58-52, in a match in January and will meet again on March 4 in a Pac-12 rematch. Pre-March Madness online odds are expected to be affected by the preliminary rankings released by the Division 1 men’s basketball committee.

UCLA Head Coach Mick Cronin Brands Ranking ‘Comical’

In a statement, the UCLA mentor, who led his team to a 78-43 win over California on Saturday night, described the rankings as “comical.” He believes the announcement of UCLA and University of Southern California that they leave Pac-12 and join Big Ten in 2024 affected their pre-tournament rankings. Cronin charged that millions of dollars were lost when they left Pac-12 and this is a direct retaliation. The committee placed the 16 teams into the four regions. The Bruins landed in the East Regional, along with Purdue, No11 Iowa State and 14th-ranked Marquette. On the other hand, Arizona was grouped in the West with Kansas, No12 seed Kansas State and 15th-ranked Gonzaga. Mick Cronin warned that the league rankings do not matter and they have proven it a couple of years ago. In 2021, No11 UCLA made it to the Final Four before losing to Gonzaga in the national semifinals. UCLA leading scorer Jaime Jaquez Jr said that he will just wait for the final bracket in Selection Sunday on March 12.

New Mexico State Fires Coach Amid Hazing Charges

New Mexico State has parted ways with coach Greg Heiar amid hazing allegations within the team. The suspicions shut the basketball program down for the rest of the season. University chancellor Dan Arvizu confirmed the firing of the rookie coach and denounced hazing, saying that it has no place in the campus. He added that those found responsible will be held accountable for their action. Arvizu said that the rest of the coaching staff will be investigated and the decisions against them will be made after the probe. The official halted the program on February 12 after studying a campus police report in which a player accused three of his teammates of attacking him. Charges of false imprisonment, harassment and criminal sexual contact were included in the report. Heiar, 47, spent time as an assistant for former Aggies coach Chris Jans, who transferred to Mississippi State. Last season, Heiar helped the Northwest Florida State secure the junior college national title. Two highly-ranked juco players – Issa Muhammad and Deshawndre Washington – were recruited by Heiar to play for New Mexico State.

Violent Start to the Season

Things unravelled when some cagers got involved in a fight with New Mexico students at an Aggies football game in October. A month later, forward Mike Peake shot a student who was involved in the fight. Peake has been suspended from the team but not charged. The hazing allegations came less than three months after the shooting in Albuquerque. The Aggies have a record of 9-15 win-loss when their season was halted. They were supposed to play California Baptist last Saturday. The Western Athletic Conference decided to forfeit New Mexico State’s final six games. The team is supposed to move into the Conference USA next season. New Mexico State has made 26 trips to the NCAA Tournament and reached the Sweet 16 five times. The forfeiture of New Mexico State’s games automatically eliminate them from the tournament and cage picks and parlays remove them from title contention.