No. 1 seed Arizona leads Pac-12 teams

The Pac-12 Conference was the talk of last year’s NCAA Tournament.

Underestimated by the NCAA selection committee, the league’s teams went 13-4 in March Madness – including three teams in the Elite Eight. Two of those were double-digit seeds UCLA and Oregon State.

Now it’s looking like the Pac-12 might only send three teams dancing this March.

It’s been a top-heavy league this year, with Arizona, UCLA and Southern California all likely to be seeded well in the NCAAs come Selection Sunday. UCLA, a No. 3 seed in USA TODAY Sports’ latest bracket projection, was expected to be a Final Four contender. Arizona, a program that was ineligible for last year’s NCAA Tournament due to a self-imposed ban, was hardly expected to be where it is now in mid-February under first-year coach Tommy Lloyd.

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The Wildcats (22-2, 12-1 Pac-12) have an impressive tournament résumé – sporting the second best NET score in the nation behind only Gonzaga – which is why they’ve ascended to a No. 1 seed after Purdue stumbled last week in a brutal loss to bubble team Michigan.

One problem Arizona could run into is building on six Quadrant 1 victories on its profile. The Wildcats already played UCLA twice, splitting the games, but will be hard-pressed to find any Q1 opportunities outside of a March 1 road game at USC.

That’s the issue in a down year for the Pac-12, which ranks sixth among power conferences in the NET. The West Coast Conference, a mid-major league, has more projected bids (four) compared to the Pac-12’s three.

No. 1 seeds

Auburn, Gonzaga, Kansas, Arizona.

Last four in

San Francisco, Belmont, Creighton, SMU.

First four out

Memphis, Rutgers, West Virginia, Virginia.

Next four out

San Diego State, Michigan, Kansas State, VCU.

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Others considered for at-large bids: Cincinnati, Saint Bonaventure, Santa Clara, St. John’s, Colorado, Oregon, Washington State, Ohio, Saint Louis, Stanford, Dayton, Florida, UAB, Fresno State, Mississippi State.

On life support: Virginia Tech, Drake, Vanderbilt, Louisiana Tech, Richmond, UCF, Missouri State, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Florida State, Minnesota.

Multi-bid conferences: Big 12 (7), Big Ten (7), Big East (7), SEC (6), ACC (5), West Coast (4), Mountain West (3), Pac-12 (3), American Athletic (2), Ohio Valley (2).

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