The Pac-12’s promising start in the NCAA tournament ran into a brick wall Friday. After Oregon, California and Arizona posted wins Thursday to restore a little respect to the beleaguered conference, UCLA and Colorado bowed out quickly from the tourney with uninspiring performances.
Making matters worse, Arizona State’s bid to upset Baylor in the National Invitation Tournament came up short.
AROUND THE PAC-12:
— Former Oregon guard Malcolm Armstead found a home at Wichita State.
— Without freshman guard Jordan Adams, who broke his foot in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals, No. 6 seed UCLA had no chance of preventing an 83-63 defeat in the second round of the NCAAs to No. 11 seed Minnesota. The LA Daily News writes: “When asked if (coach Ben Howland) might have coached his last game for the Bruins, he answered: “No comment.” ”
— There’s always something with Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA’s freshman star. First it was eligibility issues, then Gucci-gate, a series of injuries and speculation about whether he’s leaving for the NBA. The latest to-do is his age. He’s not 19, which was listed in the UCLA media guide. He’s 20.
— No. 10 seed Colorado trailed by 16 points at halftime, opened the second half with a 21-0 run to regain the lead, but ultimately lost 57-49 to No. 7 seed Illinois. Askia Booker scored 14 points for the Buffaloes while leading score Spencer Dinwiddie had six on 1-for-8 shooting.
— Andre Roberson, the Pac-12 defensive player of the year, had trouble stopping Brandon Paul, who finished with 17 points. Roberson, a junior, is contemplating leaving early for the NBA. He told the Daily Camera: “Definitely a lot of thinking to do. I’ll sit down with coach (Tad) Boyle and I’ll sit down and talk to my dad as well, weigh my options and figure out what I have to do.”
— Many are weighing in on Roberson’s decision, but few are providing sound reasons why he should stay in school or declare for the draft.
— No. 12 seed Oregon wants to play fast, while No. 4 seed Saint Louis prefers a half-court game. The Ducks went to great lengths to get a scouting report on the Billikens. The Ducks may need more from their star Arsalan Kazemi.
— In another matchup of 12 and 4 seeds, California must contend with Syracuse and is vaunted zone defense.
— Things are aligning nicely for No. 6 seed Arizona to make a long run in the NCAA tourney. The only team standing between the Wildcats and the Sweet 16 in nearby Los Angeles is No. 14 Harvard.
— No. 3 seed Arizona State lost 89-86 to No. 2 Baylor in the second round NIT game in Waco, Texas. Carrick Felix scored 23 points to lead the Sun Devils, Jahii Carson had 20 points, Chris Colvin 15 and Evan Gordon 14.
— Some are calling for Herb Sendek’s job, but Arizona Republic columnist Scott Bordow writes: “But to lay the failure solely at Sendek’s feet is to ignore the fact, borne out by decades of evidence, that ASU’s basketball program is much like Arizona’s football program. Occasionally it will have a good year, maybe even a great year. But most of the time it will just meander along, hoping for the best but settling for less. And changing coaches — again — won’t change that.”
TODAY’S NCAA TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE FOR PAC-12 TEAMS:
— No. 14 Harvard (20-9) vs. No. 6 Arizona (26-7), 3:10 p.m.
TV: TNT Announcers: Spiro Dedes, Doug Gottlieb and Jamie Maggio
— No. 12 Oregon (27-8) vs. No. 4 Saint Louis (28-6), 4:10 p.m.
TV: TBS Announcers: Brian Anderson, Dan Bonner and Marty Snider
— No. 12 California (21-11) vs. No. 4 Syracuse (27-9), 6: 40 p.m.
TV: TBS Announcers: Anderson, Bonner and Snider