Matt Takimoto, Addicted to Quack: The conference has been so bad the past few years, it was hard to get any worse. But multiple teams in the Sweet Sixteen is always a good thing, and speaks to the quality at the top of the conference. The next step is getting all 12 programs to a competitive level.
Jack Follman, Pacific Takes: I already thought that the conference was the strongest it had been since UCLA, Stanford and Washington State all made the Sweet 16 in 2008 going in, but this pretty much confirms. I would say that it isn't nearly as strong as it was that year, but the fact that is is getting close is a great sign.
Norcalnick, California Golden Blogs: I think it's pretty hard to argue that this year is better than 2009, when 60% of the conference made the tournament and 50% were playing basketball in the Round of 32. Like 2012-13, the Pac-10 lacked a true marquee team, but the depth of talent was even stronger that year.
But yeah, this season is miles better than the last three years, although we could have said that before the tournament started, and we could have said that even if the Pac-12 had lost every opening round game. The eye test, computer metrics, the RPI - everybody agreed that the Pac-12 is back as a competitive major conference.
Andy Wooldridge, Building The Dam: It's a stretch I think to say the conference overall is a lot better just because a couple of teams are better. The Pac didn't do as well in the "lesser" tournaments, indicating the middle tier isn't even as strong, or at least not as versatile, as it was the last couple of years, even though the teams at the top are better.
How far teams from the conference can get can be as much a product of matchups, who suffered what injuries, and when, and how much the competition in some cases may have backed up, as it is about how much the conference may have improved. I think its still a competitive churn, but most teams still lack the depth and versatility to be a reliable threat to all comers.
The improvement also has to be sustained. If the conference across the board improves next year, then I'd say it might be the best its been in 5-6 years. This year was an excellent start for some, but a setback for others (Stanford, Washington, OSU, WSU), and the jury is out on USC, and I would say, on Utah too.
Adam Butler, Pac Hoops - Works by me as a barometer. So often we want to call someone successful - or otherwise - by how they perform in March. How many times have you seen it cited that Howland has won just 1 tournament game across the past five years? Did you know that Arizona has been to 3 of the last 5 sweet 16s? I don't really know what that last stat really proves but it is surprising considering we often think Arizona has struggled of late. Alas, the point here stands that playing in the second weekend of the tournament and getting there convincingly so says a lot about how good your team is. I'm not positive it says a ton about the state of an entire conference but Arizona and Oregon were considered the two best the Pac could produce. And they're producing in March.