LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Spencer Dinwiddie #25 of the Colorado Buffaloes cuts down the net after the Buffaloes 53-51 victory against the Arizona Wildcats in the championship game of the Pacific Life Pac-12 basketball tournament at Staples Center on March 10, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Colorado earned the Pac-12 conference's automatic berth in the 2012 NCAA tournament with the victory. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Feel the outrage rest of country. The enfeebled and maligned conference that you all despise could very well end up with multiple bids.
Many people would like to believe the Pac-12 will only receive one bid from the tournament come Selection Sunday. My suggestion is not to bank on it. Had there been a bubble with stronger teams, you might think steals were coming, but so far only one or two have occurred. Admittedly, one of them was Colorado taking the auto bid, so it could muddle things up a little...
There are no sure locks, but let's take a look in order:
Cal should be in. California did not end the season right, but they played the majority of it with the right spirit. They were on a six game winning streak before their final slide. They played about 60% of the season without slated starting center Richard Solomon, yet still won 24 games and came up in second despite sporting a five man team. If that doesn't get rewarded, nothing will. It's hard to believe a team did that much with so little.
Colorado winning the Pac-12 tournament does help a team like Cal out a little, as it proves that they didn't just lose to some scrub team twice. The Buffs are a hard and physical matchup for the Golden Bears, and it was just not easy sledding for a Cal team that has little depth.
One thing that might keep Cal out is the fact that they are a thin team and probably aren't built for tournament play; how far can they go given that they're on the bubble? They aren't on the bubble, but they are perilously close, and
Washington winning the Pac-12 complicates matters. Under normal circumstances, the Pac-12 would send the conference champion to the Dance. But this is no normal champion: Washington performed far worse than Cal out of conference, struggled away from Seattle, and lost to Cal head-to-head in their lone meeting at home. That is not a good resume-builder.
Still, the Selection Committee would have to do something they've rarely done: Take away a tournament bid from a major conference champion.
The Pac-12 has not played like a major conference this year, but everyone knows they're capable of rising up to the level of their opponents. Washington may have been a huge underachiever, but they are not someone you just want to toss aside. The Huskies lost to Marquette by two and Duke by six on a neutral court; they definitely have the capability to play and beat good teams.
Oregon and Arizona are graveyard sleepers. Oregon has technically done nothing wrong, but they could sure use one of those Cal wins right about now. Bowing out to Colorado early also hurt. Their only claim is how close they came to running through February undefeated--the last four losses by the Ducks have come by a combined ten points. Oregon will be a tough omission because they are playing extremely well, perhaps the best of all the Pac-12 teams coming into March. They just ran into the Colorado buzzsaw.
The Wildcats sunk themselves with a loss to ASU. They'll need prayers to be answered, even if it ends them at a 13th seed in Siberia or something.