It has been a rough opening round for the Pac-12 Conference in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. While Stanford had a disappointing season and is on the hunt for a new coach the rest of the Pac-12 did not finish much better. An amazing seven teams from the Pac-12 were invited to dance and all 7 Pac-12 teams were the higher seed. Unfortunately for Pac-12 basketball fans, March Madness proved to be too much for most of them. For all of the talk about how loaded the Pac-12 is in basketball this season it took less than 30 hours after the round of 64 started for five of those seven teams to be eliminated.
The #8 seed Colorado Buffaloes started off Thursday for the Pac-12 with a second half collapse against the #9 seed Connecticut Huskies. Colorado was up 9 at the half before UConn took control of the game and sent the higher seeded Buffs home early.
The #3 seed Utah Utes were next up for the Pac-12 who handled their business with an 11-point victory over the #14 seed Fresno State Bulldogs. Utah was the lone Pac-12 team to win on Thursday. The Utes will take on the #11 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs Saturday night on TNT.
In perhaps the biggest disappointment for the Pac-12 on Thursday The #6 seed Arizona Wildcats looked thoroughly unimpressive against Wichita State. The Shockers had to beat Vanderbilt two days prior in a play in game but it did not stop them from upsetting Arizona.
Wrapping up Thursday for the Conference the #8 seed USC Trojans took on the Providence Friars. This was certainly the most entertaining Pac-12 game of the night, but it too ended badly for the conference. It was a tight, back and forth game all night, but abysmal free throw shooting from the Trojans and a blown defensive assignment in the final three seconds allowed the Friars to survive and advance.
Friday started out for the Pac-12 in much the same way as Thursday. The #7 seed Oregon State Beavers took on the #10 seed Virginia Commonwealth Rams. The Beavers trailed for most of the game before losing 75-67.
Cal basketball tipped off shortly after Oregon State but the result was quite the same. The #4 seed California Golden Bears took on the #13 seed Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. The Bears had a great season but it seemed as though the Cal team that finished fourth in the Pac-12 Conference did not show up in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Hawaii maintained a slim margin for most of the game before pulling away late. If #6 seeded Arizona losing to an 11 seed was a bad upset, a 4th seeded Cal losing to #13 seed Hawaii was worse. Unless the Ducks manage to lose in the opening round Cal probably wins the dubious honor of biggest disappointment for the conference in this tournament.
Speaking of the Ducks, as of publishing the #1 seed Oregon Ducks have yet to start against #16 seed Holy Cross but barring a legendary upset the Ducks should advance to the next round leaving only them and the Utes to represent the Pac-12 in the NCAA Tournament.