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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pro/Con: Does the Pac-12 deserve multiple Tournament bids?

The+Arizona+Wildcats+took+on+the+Colorado+Buffaloes+on+Saturday%2C+January+12%2C+2012+at+Coors+Events+Center+in+Boulder%2C+Colo.+
Colin Darland
The Arizona Wildcats took on the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday, January 12, 2012 at Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colo.

Pac-12 will get at least two teams in despite struggles

When the dust settles and the Pac-12 Conference pecking order is finally solidified, two teams will make the NCAA Tournament cut.

That isn’t to say the Pac-12 features two dominating squads manning the controls at the top of the standings, because that’s not the case.

Cal and Stanford proved that this past weekend when the Cardinal was swept by the Washington schools and the Golden Bears fell to Wazzu. No team is safe in this conference of mediocrity.

But the fact of the matter is there’s so much parity it’s almost certain the regular season champs won’t march through the Pac-12 Tournament unscathed and earn an automatic bid to the big dance.
So let’s assume Cal, who’s currently tied for first with Oregon, wins the regular season title and earns an at-large bid to the tournament, as is customary protocol for most semi-major conferences.

While the Golden Bears are experienced and talented with guards Allen Crabbee and Jorge Gutierrez, Cal isn’t good enough to win back-to-back games against other Pac-12 teams hungry for a taste of the tournament.

The Golden Bears lost to Missouri by 39, UNLV by 27, and have also fallen to Oregon State and Washington State. Even if Oregon, Stanford or Arizona captured the Pac-12 regular season title, they’ve all proven too inconsistent to predict if any of them will win the conference tournament as well.

The fact of the matter is, the Pac-12 is bad, which will likely lead to two NCAA Tournament bids — one from the regular season champions and one from the conference tournament victor.

Whether he uses the same logic or not, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi agrees. Lunardi has Cal in as a nine-seed and Stanford in as a 12-seed with Arizona and Oregon in the first four out.

— Mike Schmitz is a marketing senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatHoops.

Winning Pac-12 Tourney is only chance for Arizona

The Pac-12 is a mix of teams that fall somewhere in the range of terrible, mediocre and slightly above average. Last time I checked, slightly above average teams don’t get at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament.

By the time it’s all said and done, the Pac-12 champion will have either lost a game by 40 points, lost by double-digits at home to a school from South Dakota, or lost at home to a Division II school.

It might be possible to overlook each team’s miserable time in the non-conference schedule if they looked somewhat capable in conference play. Cal and Stanford had a shot at doing that last weekend, but both failed.

Arizona had a chance to put a road sweep together but dropped a very winnable game at Colorado a week after losing another should-be win at home against Oregon.

If there’s one team in the conference that’s proved itself anywhere near worthy of an at-large bid, it’s Oregon, but the Ducks lost to every competent team they played during their non-conference slate.

In a typical year, the Pac-12 regular-season champion would be all but guaranteed a bid. But this season, the regular-season champ will likely finish with five losses in a bad conference and won’t have a defining non-conference win.

Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham is the conference’s closest thing to a surefire NBA player, and his Beavers sit at 3-5 in the Pac-12. A conference without great players isn’t going to have good teams. A conference without good teams isn’t going to get an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.

— Alex Williams is the sports editor. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatHoops.

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