There are strong research programs in both theoretical and experimental quantum computation at both Berkeley and Santa Barbara. Quantum computation is an interdisciplinary field that in physics often falls in the categories of condensed matter or atomic/molecular/optical (AMO), but also in fields outside of physics like computer science, chemistry or math. Berkeley, for instance, has two theoretical groups in quantum computing, but they are in chemistry and computer science, not physics, although physics students often work in them. I don't think the difference in subfield US News rankings is meaningful except as a rough guide, because ultimately what matters are the specific researchers you might work with, and all sorts of hard to predict individual factors (e.g. their reputation, how easy they are to work with, whether you like them, whether they have money, etc.).
I think you have a perfectly reasonable chance of getting started in research if you show strong interest, although this is harder in theory than experiment. You will need to directly and persistently approach potential research advisers.