The Pac-12 is on the verge of sending only one team, the Washington Huskies, to the college basketball tournament this season, which would be the first time in its history that an at-large team from the Pac-12 did not advance to March Madness.
The Pac-12 does not have any teams in the AP Top 25 Poll. Washington (20-5) is the best team in the Pac-12 by default in a league stocked with mediocre squads. The Huskies are the only team with 20 wins. It’s been a disappointing season across the board with Arizona (14-12) and Oregon (15-10) struggling with a combined 11-14 record in the Pac-12.
The Pac-12 even saw a rare mid-season firing. UCLA fired its head coach Steve Alford after an embarrassing loss to Liberty. The glory days when John Wooden and UCLA dominated the landscape are long gone. Right now, the Bruins (13-13) are lucky to be playing .500 basketball.
The Pac-12 sent three teams to March Madness last year and all three teams were eliminated in the opening round. The Pac-12 became the first power conference in college basketball history to fail to have at least one team advance to the Round of 32.
Washington is in first place in the Pac-12 with an 11-1 record. The Huskies are the favorite to win the Pac-12 tournament. But what if they do not? Will the selection committee give them enough props to invite them as an at-large team?
UW has losses against #1 Gonzaga, #11 Auburn, #13 Virginia Tech, Minnesota, and Arizona State. UW has only one loss in the Pac-12, but they did not fare well against ranked teams with an 0-3 record. They kept the game at Gonzaga close, but lost by two points.
Most recently, UW defeated their rival Washington State by two points to bounce back from the Arizona State loss.
Long Shots: Sun Devils and Buffs
The Pac-12’s biggest hope to get two teams into the tournament would be any other team to win the Pac-12 except Washington. No other school has a chance at an at-large bid.
Colorado is making a late-season run. The Buffs, led by sophomore guard McKinley Wright, won five straight and could become a legitimate threat during the Pac-12 tournament.
Arizona State recently snapped UW’s ten-game winning streak. The Sun Devils have the Huskies number and will pose a tough matchup in the tournament. ASU is led by guard Luguentz Dort from Montreal, Quebec, Canada and he averages 16.4 points per game.
Arizona State’s only route to March Madness will be to win the Pac-12 tournament. Even if Arizona State wins out their rest of their games, it would not be enough. They have losses against Princeton, Utah, Stanford, Vanderbilt, and #6 Nevada.
Pac-12 Gridiron Woes
The Pac-12 looked equally bad in football this season too. They failed to send a team to the college football playoff as the Pac-12 became the obvious weakest conference among the Power 5.
Pac-12 football is caught in a transitional phase. Oregon is no longer the same powerhouse it once was when Chip Kelly coached them. Luckily, they have QB Justin Herbert returning for his senior year instead of going pro.
Meanwhile, Chip Kelly is still getting his feet wet at UCLA. The Bruins played much better in the second half of the season, but Kelly only went 3-9 in his first season in Westwood.
USC did not fire Clay Helton despite being in the hot seat all season. USC initially hired Kliff Kingsbury as their new offensive coordinator to spice things up with the offense. However, Kingsbury bolted when multiple teams offered him jobs in the pros. The New York Jets wanted to hire Kingsbury to mentor Sam Darnold. Instead, Kingsbury is going to coach the Arizona Cardinals and attempt to install Air Raid principles with young QB Josh Rosen.
Whatever is going on in the Pac-12 is contagious. Larry Scott is probably the most hated conference commissioner in all of collegiate sports. Washington won the Pac-12 college football title game this year on a controversial no-call. During the trophy ceremony, fans boisterously booed Larry Scott.