We are less than two weeks away from Selection Sunday and less than three weeks away from the 2017 installment of March Madness.
And with such little time left, all eyes are out west as, it seems, the most popular question in college basketball is, “Who is the best in the West?”
The Arizona Wildcats may have fallen from contention for that title on Saturday night as they lost in McKale Center for just the second time in over 70 games. The UCLA Bruins, another contender, marched into Tucson and beat Arizona 77-72.
Atop the Pac-12 sit the Oregon Ducks, the favorite to be the highest seed among teams in the conference.
Many pundits believed the top prize for the Pac-12 would be a 2-seed in the West region for the NCAA Tournament and that’s what Oregon, UCLA, and Arizona would be gunning for. But a shocking result on Saturday night has now upped the ante for these Pac-12 powerhouses.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs, who own a win over Arizona earlier this year, came into Saturday night’s regular season finale against BYU at 29-0 and rolling full steam ahead toward an undefeated season. They’ve been plugged in as the 1-seed in the West for quite some time and rightfully so. But a stunning home loss has now left that 1-seed up for grabs.
Does Gonzaga still hold the 1-seed? Is it now Oregon’s to lose? Will the eventual winner of the Pac-12 Tournament have the inside track to the 1-seed?
Who knows?! But here’s what I think in this week’s installment of Bracketology:
Last Four Byes: Arkansas, Marquette, California, Illinois State
Last Four In: USC, Georgia Tech, Seton Hall, Wake Forest
First Four Out: TCU, Providence, Clemson, Kansas State
Next Four Out: Houston, Rhode Island, Vanderbilt, Tennessee
Gonzaga remains my 1-seed in the West. They finish the regular season at 29-1 and remain one of the best teams in the nation. But, after that loss to BYU, their margin for error is minuscule. They need to absolutely roll through the West Coast Conference Tournament, preferably with a win over virtually locked-in at-large, Saint Mary’s (currently 7-seed, East region).
Oregon currently holds the 2-seed in the West but they have the best argument to steal Gonzaga’s spot. Arizona has been listed as a 2-seed in a lot of projections. I have them as a 3 in the Midwest after the home loss on Saturday night. And UCLA jumps up to a 3 in the South as they add yet another impressive win to their resume.
Next up for these Pac-12 heavyweights, Oregon has their in-state rival, the Oregon State Beavers, on Saturday. UCLA has the Washington schools in Pauley Pavilion this week. And the next time we’ll see Arizona in action will be in Tempe against Arizona State.
Speaking of ASU, they stunned the USC Trojans on Saturday night and now USC finds themselves firmly on the bubble (currently 11-seed, West region). Andy Enfield’s crew can not afford a loss to either the Washington Huskies or Washington State Cougars this week or they could very well be on the outside, looking in.
There are currently five Pac-12 teams in the field — the four mentioned above and the California Golden Bears (currently 11-seed, East region).