COLLEGE: Three UCs among the seeds

UC Irvine was seeded eighth, UCLA 13th and UC Santa Barbara 16th for the NCAA Division I men's soccer tournament, which means all received byes into the second round.

It also means all three will be home Sunday -- and, because the NCAA seeds its men's tournament (unlike its women's) nationally, all three could make it to the College Cup final four.

That would require an upset or two along the way, but the draw released Monday afternoon provided good news for the Southern California contingent.

Big West Conference champion UCI (16-5-1) will open against St. Mary's (8-6-5) or Cal State Bakersfield (12-3-5), which meet in a first-round Thursday in Bakersfield.

Pacific 12 Conference champ UCLA (15-4-1), underrated at No. 13, will face Virginia (12-7-1) or Delaware (12-5-4), and UCSB (14-6-1), runner-up to Irvine in the Big West regular-season and tournament, will face Providence (10-7-1) or Dartmouth (8-5-4).

UCI's and UC Santa Barbara's games will begin at 5 p.m. UCLA kicks off at 7.

Irvine returns to the NCAA tournament for the third time in four seasons -- and after a controversial snub last year. The Anteaters are on target for a third-round game against St. John's (14-6-2), likely at UCI, and a potential quarterfinal against No. 1 seed North Carolina (17-2-2).

UCI lost in the snow at St. John's in the third round in 2008

If UCLA reaches the third round, it probably would travel to No. 4 Boston College (14-6-0). Possible quarterfinal foes include No. 5 Maryland (13-3-3) and 12th-seeded Louisville (12-6-2), which reached last year's title game and beat UCLA, 2-0, in late August.

UC Santa Barbara lines up with second-seeded Creighton (18-2-0).

The NCAA Committee's over-reliance on RPI led to some questionable seedings. UCLA is ranked sixth and received a more difficult draw that necessary. Top-ranked New Mexico (17-0-3) was seeded 10th and could have to beat second-ranked Creighton to get to the final four. Defending champion Akron (13-4-3) is ranked seventh but was left unseeded and must beat Northwestern in the first round to get to sixth-seeded SMU.

The full slate (first round Thursday, second round Sunday):

Bracket 1

Elon (9-10-2) at Coastal Carolina (17-3-0), with the winner playing at North Carolina (17-2-2)

Liberty (11-6-2) at Old Dominion (12-5-1), winner at Indiana (12-3-5)

Fairfield (12-4-1) at Brown (10-4-3), winner at St. John's (14-6-2)

St. Mary's (8-6-5) at Cal State Bakersfield (12-3-5), winner at UC Irvine (16-5-1)

Bracket 2

Xavier (12-4-4) at West Virginia (10-7-1), winner at Maryland (13-3-3)

Loyola-Chicago (7-11-2) at Bradley (14-5-2), winner at Louisville (12-6-2)

Delaware (12-5-4) at Virginia (12-7-1), winner at UCLA (15-4-1)

Colgate (11-4-6) at Rutgers (9-6-3), winner a Boston College (14-6-0)

Bracket 3

Stony Brook (10-6-3) at Monmouth (14-5-1), winner at Connecticut (17-3-2)

Wake Forest (8-7-4) at South Carolina (9-7-2), winner at James Madison (12-4-2)

Furman (14-3-4) at Charlotte (13-4-2), winner at Ala.-Birmingham (13-4-3)

Northwestern (11-4-5) at Akron (13-3-4), winner at SMU (13-6-1)

Bracket 4

Florida Gulf Coast (12-5-2) at Central Florida (11-5-3), winner at South Florida (12-3-3)

Georgia State (13-7-1) at Duke (10-7-3), winner at New Mexico (17-0-3)

Dartmouth (8-5-4) at Providence (10-7-1), winner at UC Santa Barbara (14-6-1)

Western Illinois (13-6-1) at Northern Illinois (14-5-0), winner at Creighton (18-2-0)