For all you conspiracy theorists out there, time to check your hole card. Sunday, the NCAA-tournament basketball tournament selections came out, and, gotta admit, they made a couple of the weirdest calls on Pac-12 teams I can ever remember around this league.
Oregon, after winning the Pac-12 tournament, got a No. 12 seed and will play Oklahoma State. Funny, but at mid-week, assessing the impact of the conference tournaments, I listed Oregon as “in” the NCAA, but wrote of the Ducks:
If the bubble weren’t so soft, you might question Oregon’s credentials: Ducks were only 2-4 against the other Pac-12 locks, went 3-5 against the top 50, 7-7 versus the top 100, had a non-conference SOS of 259, and went 5-6 down the stretch. Still, the downy nature of the bubble figures to accommodate them even with a loss to the UW-WSU survivor Thursday night.
I’m not sure even I believed what I was writing, but now it appears that the Ducks indeed might have been bounced from the tournament if they’d lost that quarterfinal, overtime game against Washington where the Huskies couldn’t close it out down the stretch.
Basketball committee chairman Mike Bobinski said Sunday the Ducks, as well as Cal, were moved one seed line to accommodate some bracketing principles, so we can gather from that they were regarded as a true No. 11. But that would have to surprise even ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, who had the Ducks as an 8 seed Sunday. Apparently, the return of Dominic Artis didn’t benefit Oregon’s standing much, as perhaps the committee looked hard at the final weekend of the regular season, when Oregon got swept at Colorado and Utah by double digits.
If you’re thinking along with the committee, you might also conclude that the Washington and Utah victories in the Pac-12 tournament didn’t do much for Oregon other than avoid a loss. But the finishing victory over UCLA, the regular-season winner, had to be worth something.
Then there was Cal’s treatment. The Bears are one of the blessed teams of all-time. Instead of a three-hour trek across country, they get to play in San Jose, a bus ride away, as a 12 seed. They even get to meet UNLV, which they lost to in December on an unlikely putback shot with a second left by the Rebels, so the motivational edge should belong to Cal.
The committee is supposed to stay away from round-of-64 rematches of the regular season, and I can’t recall one.
“Trust me, we didn’t try to make that rematch,” Bobinski told CBS Sports. “We were also aware of that geography. It was the best we could do.”
Just tells you how difficult the seeding and siting process is, and that it’s a long way from being perfect.