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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Pro/Con: Was the Pac-10 overrated?

    PRO: Pac-10 not all it’s cracked up to be

    All season long the talk of college basketball centered around how good the Pacific 10 Conference was.

    National media extolled the virtues of the league, conference coaches – particularly USC’s Tim Floyd – made it an almost weekly point to mention how great the league was during the weekly media conference call and even yours truly often wrote about the league’s greatness.

    Not only was the Pac-10 called the best conference in the nation by many sources, finishing No. 2 to the Atlantic Coach Conference in the Ratings Percentage Index, but many mentioned it as the best the league has ever been.

    It’s amazing a team as talented as California could finish ninth in the deep Pac-10, as the Golden Bears’ lineup included the conference’s leading scorer in Ryan Anderson, a quality big man in DeVon Hardin and an explosive guard in Patrick Christopher heading a team with quality depth.

    But my bracket would look a whole lot better if I didn’t get sucked into the Pac-10’s hype.

    I figured the conference’s greatness would shine through in the NCAA Tournament, but after all the hype throughout the year, who would have thought three teams would lose in the first round and another two in the Sweet 16, and leave the Bruins alone to carry the conference’s torch?

    In 1997, four teams reached the Sweet 16, two the Elite Eight and Arizona won the national championship. The next year only four teams went dancing but they all reached the Sweet 16. Arizona made it to the Elite Eight and Stanford went to the Final Four.

    In 2001, four reached the Sweet 16, three the Elite eight and Arizona the final game.

    Even last year when people talked about the Pac-10 as a good conference but not as elite as this year the same six teams went dancing, only two lost in the first round, three reached the Sweet 16, two the Elite Eight and UCLA the Final Four.

    It’s impressive that nine teams won at least six league games and seven won at least eight, but the Pac-10’s Tournament failures make that look more like a sign of mediocrity across the board than superiority as a whole.

    Michael Schwartz, senior writer

    CON: Not the best but well represented

    I know what you’re thinking.

    Only one Pacific 10 Conference school is represented in the men’s basketball Final Four and if the conference was really so dominant, how come there aren’t four Pac-10 teams in the Final Four?

    Well this is UCLA’s third straight Final Four appearance, so that’s great representation. But we’re not talking about UCLA in general. We’re talking about the conference the Bruins were at the top of the conference that was represented by six teams, making a little more than nine percent of the total pool. Not too shabby when you consider the fact that 31 conferences are represented in the tournament.

    The selection committee for the tournament knew how good the conference was and picked Oregon to dance with a 9-9

    conference record. Arizona was picked with an 8-10 record. Never before had a Pac-10 team, let alone two, gotten in with a .500 record or worse.

    And when ASU was snubbed and left out of the NCAA Tournament with a 9-9 record it was the talk of the nation for days.

    But in order to really tell how great the conference is, you have to realize it’s not about how far each team went in the tournament. Just look at how badly all the teams beat each other up.

    UCLA’s only lost three games all season and two came at the hands of USC, which finished fourth in the Pac-10, and Washington, which finished eighth.

    Washington State had nine losses, seven in conference play. Two-thirds of Arizona’s losses came in conference play. Hell, even cellar-dweller Oregon State followed the same trend, losing seven nonconference games and all 18 of its Pac-10 games.

    Sure, the Pac-10 wasn’t the best conference in the country this year – it was second in the Ratings Percentage Index to the Atlantic Coach Conference. But it was definitely not overrated.

    Lance Madden, sports editor

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