The Pac: Way Back?

Posted by Andrew Murawa on April 2nd, 2015

Three Sweet Sixteen teams. One in the Elite Eight. And yet when the Final Four rolls around this weekend, it will commence without an entrant from the West Coast’s major conference, the Pac-12, for the seventh consecutive season. Arizona has nothing to be embarrassed about from its loss to Wisconsin on Saturday. Utah and UCLA both put up good fights before going down to clearly superior teams. But this is turning into something of an issue. Since the last time a Pac-12 team advanced to the Final Four (UCLA, 2008), four different Big Ten schools have earned a total of seven spots in the sport’s final weekend. The Big East has earned seven as well, although all of those but Villanova have scattered in the wind to different conferences (the new Big East does have Butler, however, which earned two Final Four appearances as part of the Horizon League). Even conferences like the Colonial (VCU, 2011), the Missouri Valley (Wichita State, 2013) and the newly formed American (Connecticut, 2014) have Final Four appearances since the last Pac-12 appearance.

Not Only Is Arizona A Player's Program, It Is The Pac-12's Best (AP)

Not Only Is Arizona A Player’s Program, It Is The Pac-12’s Best. (AP)

Furthermore, if you throw out UCLA’s three straight appearances from 2006-08, you have to go all the way back to 2001 to find another Pac-12 school (Arizona) with a Final Four appearance. In the history of the conference that starts with the word “Pacific” and ends with a number, only three schools (UCLA, Arizona and Stanford) have made the Final Four. Current member Utah got to the final weekend back in 1998 (and in 1966, for that matter) as a member of the WAC, and had previously earned spots as a member of the Mountain States conference in 1944 and 1961. Refer to the bottom of the page for the complete list of when teams in the conference last reached that level of success. So, really, I didn’t sit down expecting to write the above. I was just going to write a simple season wrap-up and wound up diving down a rabbit hole. Now I’m left with these burning questions: 1) Why does the Pac-12 find itself in such dire straits? And 2) is there any hope of significant change? Let’s dive right into the first one with the caveat that, even after thinking about this for 24 hours, I’m not sure I have a great answer. So, we’ll leave it open for further discussion. Feel free to shoot down any of my theories and propose your ideas along the way.

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And You Wonder Why the Pac-12 Gets No Respect…

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 21st, 2011

Adams State, Seattle Pacific, and Loyola Marymount. Oh yeah, don’t forget about Cal Poly, Pepperdine, and Middle Tennessee. What do all of these teams have in common, you might be wondering? They have all posted early season wins over Pac-12 teams, causing much of the nation to already write off the conference as an elite power. People over here on the left coast love to point out “East Coast bias,” referring to the lack of love that the Pac-12 gets in terms of both rankings, publicity, and respect. But can you blame them after some of these losses? As it stands today, the league is 24-15, with an astonishing 11 of those losses coming against teams from outside the six power conferences.

You could make a good argument that Arizona is the best team in the Pac-12, yet they lost to Division II Seattle Pacific in an exhibition game earlier in the season. Behind the Wildcats is California, who has not yet been tested this season. But after those two, what does the Pac-12 have to offer? Washington lost by 13 against Saint Louis and only defeated Florida Atlantic by six. Surely not UCLA, who in the midst of chemistry issues has fallen to LMU by 11 and MTSU by 20. God knows what will happen when they play at Chaminade tonight and against Pepperdine (who beat Arizona State) a week from today. It’s reasons like these that people around the country stop paying attention to the Pac-12 in December, something that hurts the conference considerably on Selection Sunday.

Missed rebounds like this one by Arizona forward Angelo Chol led to a Seattle Pacific upset of the Wildcats. The game started a chain reaction of early season losses for Pac-12 teams (credit: Arizona Star)

Bad non-conference losses are nothing new to the Pac-12. Last year featured upsets like San Jose State and Idaho over Oregon, and Seattle University, Texas Southern, Utah Valley, and George Washington over Oregon State. In 2009-10 there were losses by the Beavers against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Sacramento State, Illinois-Chicago, Seattle (again, this time a 51-point defeat), and Boston U, while UCLA lost to teams like Cal State Fullerton, Portland (by 27), and Long Beach State. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Other 26: Week Three

Posted by rtmsf on December 4th, 2010

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.  For an introduction to this series, please click here.


Maybe Not the Pac-10, But Some Good Ball Out West

A common phrase that is often thrown around by all sports fans—not just college hoop junkies—is that of “East Coast bias.” This concept has morphed into such a phenomenon in the world of sports that it has developed its own Wikipedia page. To copy verbatim the definition from Wikipedia (gosh, I love this site): “East Coast bias is an expression referring to the alleged tendency for sportswriters in the United States to give greater weight and credibility to teams on the East Coast of the United States.” I consider myself an objective viewer of college basketball — and sports in general — but even if there was a degree of “East Coast bias” in me while ranking, discussing and analyzing the teams that comprise the Other 26, the performance of several teams out West are simply impossible to ignore. Watching the relentless defensive pressure of UNLV, the unselfish play of St. Mary’s, the potent offense of BYU, and the shooting ability of San Diego State is a thing of beauty. Among many of the Other 26 teams, three teams in particular are worth paying very close attention to the rest of the year: SDSU, BYU, and UNLV. These are veteran-laden teams with superior coaches who simply know how to win — the perfect recipe for a successful run during March.

What team impressed the most?

It would be easy to declare that the Central Florida Black Knights were far and away the most impressive team of the past week. After all, they defeated a ranked Florida team who had only one loss (Ohio State) entering the game and figure to be a top team in the SEC this year. While the victory against the Gators was certainly impressive — it was, in fact, the first win against Florida in the history of the program — I would argue that UNLV’s performance this past week was more impressive. The Runnin’ Rebels coasted through the 76 Classic Tournament (against formidable competition, mind you) as they defeated Murray State and Virginia Tech both by double digits. Following these wins, one may expect UNLV to come out flat against Illinois State after having traveled across the country, but they took it to the Redbirds right from the tap en route to an 82-51 victory. What makes this UNLV team all the more scary is that Tre’Von Willis, arguably the best player on the squad, is not even playing up to his full potential after being suspended for the first two games. Once Willis finds his stride, UNLV becomes an even better team. Look out.

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