A fast look at most NCAA Event bracket projections will present as much as 9 ACC groups and as many as eight faculties from the Massive 12, Massive Ten, and SEC anticipated to partake in March Madnessn this 12 months. Far down the record of conferences is the Pac-12, with solely two bids showing seemingly, an influence convention rarity.
Whereas the Pac-12 continues to be an influence convention in identify, the success of its basketball groups this season signifies it is something however proper now. It hasn’t been thought-about the “finest” convention within the sport in a while, however it’s having a 12 months to overlook — one that might lead to the identical or fewer NCAA Event bids than the American Athletic, Mountain West or Southern Convention.
The place has all of it gone mistaken for the Pac-12 in 2018-19? Take a have a look at a number of the components to a lackluster basketball season:
Conventional powers have struggled
Arizona, Oregon, and UCLA, groups which were on the prime of the convention at completely different occasions over the previous 5 years, are all having down seasons, and none appears to be like to have a shot at an at-large bid within the 2019 match. The convention’s NCAA Event hopes relaxation with common season champion Washington (24-6, 15-2 in Pac-12), bubble staff Arizona State (20-9, 11-6), and probably a 3rd staff successful the convention match.
Not precisely the end result some predicted earlier than the season.
That paints a dark image for the Pac-12’s NCAA Event hopes this 12 months — even worse than final season, when simply three convention groups — Arizona, Arizona State, and UCLA — made the match. The latter two misplaced within the First 4 and the previous was upset within the first spherical. If the convention secures solely two bids to March Insanity in 2019, it will be simply the second time that has occurred because the Pac-12 first fielded 12 groups in 2012. California and Colorado have been the convention’s solely bids that 12 months, with regular-season champion Washington notably being overlooked.
The struggles of the normal powers this season have left an influence vacuum within the Pac-12 — and no clear candidates to advance to the second weekend of the NCAA Event. Even Washington, below Pac-12 Coach of the 12 months Mike Hopkins, is just 2-Four in Quadrant 1 video games. Hopkins’ 2-Three zone protection, which he adopted from Syracuse, has paid dividends, however the Huskies will want regular offensive contributions to make noise past the primary spherical.
Struggles in nonconference play
In addition to cannibalizing itself in convention play, Pac-12 groups have struggled mightily in nonconference video games towards faculties from the ACC, SEC, Massive Ten, Massive 12 and Massive East this season. After all that every one goes out the window in March Insanity, however it’s not signal. The 12 faculties have been a measly 7-26 in nonconference play this 12 months. Three of these wins have come from the Solar Devils, who’ve essentially the most confounding resume within the convention.
Though to not the identical excessive as final 12 months, Arizona State as soon as once more put collectively spectacular nonconference wins at the beginning of the season (Mississippi State, Utah State, Kansas), earlier than struggling some dangerous losses in Pac-12 play. With three Quadrant 1 wins and 7 Quadrant 2 victories, its NCAA Event chances are high in flux, though it serves because the convention’s finest hope for a number of bids.
Prime-flight freshmen have gone right down to harm
Accidents to a number of freshmen who entered the 12 months with excessive expectations have taken a variety of the shine off the convention as nicely. UCLA freshmen Tyger Campbell (torn ACL) and Shareef O’Neal (coronary heart ailment) had their seasons come to an finish earlier than they might even take the courtroom. Bol Bol, the No. Four participant within the 247Sports activities’ Composite rankings for 2018, averaged 21 factors in 9 video games earlier than having his season finish prematurely with a foot harm. He’s anticipated to enter the NBA Draft.
And for many who would say no single participant could make or break a staff’s success … simply have a look at Duke’s struggles since Zion Williamson was lost to injury within the North Carolina recreation.
The most important concern proper now surrounding a number of coaches within the convention is the FBI scandal looming within the sport, which can affect Arizona coach Sean Miller — in addition to USC coach Andy Enfield. The total extent of any punishment is unknown proper now.
It is no secret that UCLA hasn’t been in a position to get its bearings this season, and so much will hinge on who the Bruins rent to switch dismissed coach Steve Alford. Lakers coach Luke Walton and Nevada coach Eric Musselman are two potential candidates, however whoever is employed ought to have the items in place to return UCLA near the caliber staff it was as lately as two years in the past.
Hope for the long run
Whether or not guards Jaylen Palms and Kris Wilkes keep or declare for the NBA Draft is a giant query surrounding the Bruins, however regardless, all 5 members of UCLA’s 2018 recruiting class are anticipated to return, together with Campbell and O’Neal. A bunch of six redshirt and true freshmen are averaging 39.5 factors per recreation for the younger Bruins, giving them an indication of optimism shifting ahead.
Arizona — which misplaced its complete beginning lineup from a 12 months in the past — will as soon as once more be restocking with its recruiting class, which is led by five-star gamers Nico Mannion and Josh Inexperienced. 247Sports has the Wildcats’ group, which additionally contains four-stars Zeke Nnaji, Terry Armstrong and Christian Koloko, as the highest recruiting class within the nation.
Oregon will seemingly be getting freshmen Louis King and Will Richardson again, and the constructing blocks can pair with level guard Payton Pritchard and a promising recruiting class. USC is predicted to deliver in five-star recruits Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu, in addition to two four-star prospects. Washington and Arizona State have a robust basis in place that’s ripe with potential.
Not so much has gone to plan within the convention this 12 months, however the 2019-20 season might provide less-embarrassing outcomes. There’s hope for the Pac-12, though outcomes this season have been unkind. The convention wants it.