One of the more suspect conferences in the country received 5 bids to the NCAA tournament in 2013. For as much as the media is eulogizing the end of the Big East and its classic matchups, no one is feeling sorry for the Pac 12 conference which has plenty of history of its own. The 2 bids to the NCAA tournament the conference received from last year was harsh and undeserving, as conference regular season winner Washington did not make the field. Take it or leave it, the Pac 12 received 5 bids to the 2013 field, but made the most of it on day 1. The conference is currently undefeated since all 3 Pac 12 schools pulled out wins on Thursday.
The sixth seeded Arizona Wildcats did not find their way early, but overall had little trouble closing out a 20 point victory over Belmont. The usually terrible shooting Wildcats dominated the second half of the game, and actually shot over 50% from the field to continue Belmont’s spotless defeated record in the tournament (0-6 All time). The twelfth seeded Oregon Ducks blew up some brackets by beating Oklahoma State handily as well. Oklahoma State could not get over the hump, as Oregon made a season high 8, 3-pointers. And the California Golden Bears also pulled off an upset as the twelfth seed, of fifth seeded UNLV. The Runnin’ Rebels beat the Bears December 9th on a put back from an air ball with no time remaining. But despite trying to lose the game in the final minutes Cal won this rematch which was virtually a home game (it was played in San Jose) by 3.
If the selection committee, aka Joe Lunardi, purposely slighted the Pac 12 conference last year by admitting only 2 teams, they had a new strategy to embarrass John Wooden‘s memory and the rest of the conference. They seeded the Conference really lowly across the board. Arizona and UCLA are the best seeds at 6, Cal and Oregon are 12 seeds, and Colorado is a 10 seed. However, through one day of the tournament that strategy has backfired.
Cal and Oregon were both under-seeded. They are not 12 seeds, but they played teams who are a bit over seeded too. In making a point to reward the Mountain West conference for being so competitive they were seeded highly. But when they are matched up against power conference teams, it is counterproductive to be seeded higher. But the Pac 12 took advantage of the opportunity.
Cal hardly felt like the underdog in the very pro-Cal crowd in HP Pavilion in San Jose. Cal only lost to UNLV by 1 on December 9th, yet they were 7 seeds lower than the Rebels and star freshman Anthony Bennett (who didn’t play poorly, he just played like a Freshman). Cal could have been a higher seed, but then they wouldn’t have been able to play 40 minutes from campus.
If UCLA loses against 11th seeded Minnesota at 7pm in Austin, Texas today, and Colorado against Illinois also in Austin, all of the props that the conference won today go out the window. The same goes if Cal, Oregon, and Arizona are each shown up in their second round matchups against Syracuse, St. Louis, and Harvard. The conference isn’t expected to win these games, but for now being under-seeded has helped the Pac 12.
Take that Lunardi!
LA Sports Hubsters, How will UCLA and Colorado fair in Day 2?