The Pac-12 was rewarded with some generous seeding going into March Madness. Thanks to some very generous RPI ratings for the conference and very solid wins from most of the teams from top to bottom, a lot of schools received more impressive seeding than you would have imagined (Oregon a surprise 1, Cal a 4, Oregon State a 7, Colorado and USC both 8s).
The conference got bullied into submission on Thursday.
The house of cards the Arizona Wildcats had been struggling to hold up all season came tumbling down against Wichita State, where the Shockers defense imposed their will from the tip and never let up. Arizona trailed by double digits for almost the entire second half--Arizona hasn't trailed by double digits for more than a few minutes of the past three seasons. The usually potent Wildcats offense could not get going at all, managing 19 points in the first half and about 0.5 to 0.6 points per possession for much of the first 30 minutes.
Now to be fair, Wichita is not your normal 11 seed. The Shockers struggled with a poor strength of schedule, but their defense was ranked among the best in the nation, and they looked like the best defense in the nation on Saturday. Poor Arizona had no idea what hit them.
At least Arizona had the excuse of playing a really good basketball team. Not so USC, who had every opportunity to take the win late and just gagged it away. The Trojans played pretty solid basketball for 39 minutes and were in position to beat Providence numerous times, only to miss layups and dunks and front ends of 1-and-1 free throws to not win it. And the Friars found the right opportunity with seconds left to steal the win. It finished a brutal slide for USC, who lost 8 of their last 11 games.
Perhaps the roughest loss of the night came from Colorado, who seemed to be in good position to get the upset on UConn after a very strong first half showing. But Kevin Ollie doesn't seem to like losing in this tournament. The Huskies made the right adjustments to slow down the Buff offense, and Colorado was slow to respond. Connecticut destroyed Colorado in the second half by forcing the Buffs guards to create and make plays, and Colorado couldn't. It was the downfall of the Buffs during the season, and it cost them against a team that knew how to make the right adjustments.
Utah was the only team to advance, but even their win wasn't the cleanest. The Utes turned the ball over a lot for the first 30 minutes, and Fresno State kept chipping away at their lead for much of the game until they suddenly found themselves up midway through the second half. The light seemed to go on for the Utes from there, and they went on a big run to cose the game. But that kind of effort won't be good enough against Gonzaga, so the Utes will need to improve.
So it was a really rough day for the Pac-12. With Oregon State not likely to last long without Tres Tinkle, Cal and Oregon are the last big hopes for the conference to have a solid Sweet 16 showing.