Pac-12 has work to do on the hardwood
The Pac-12 is a joke and the punch line isn't very funny.
The first 10 minutes of the Mississippi Valley State/Western Kentucky 2nd half became an insult to the Pac-12 and the conference wasn't involved. Stewart Mandel is a major college sports writer for Sports Illustrated, and he tweeted out, "If the President is taking our best ally to this game, what about his enemy? The Pac-12 tourney?"
Gutierrez scored with 8:53 to go in the first half for California's 12 and 13th points of the half. They didn't score again the rest of the half. California was out of the tourney before the real one starts. As much as I love my hometown, it's bad enough when a team gets sent to Dayton to prove themselves but this wasn't about Cal. The Pac-12 got sent to Dayton to send a message.
Some day Pac-12, you'll be good enough to earn a trip to Omaha, but for now be happy with Dayton. Colorado is so well-respected that they earned a trip to paradise, otherwise known as Albuquerque. If you're reading this Friday morning, the Pac-12 might be out of the tourney.
The biggest story this year for the Pac-12 is Ben Howland mocks kids with concussions and UCLA supports the decision. Second was the running national commentary about how bad the Pac-12 is. The conference has slipped so far, the most positive thing that can be said is it has a 3-1 record in the NIT.
The state of Arizona is even tougher to swallow. It's not breaking news that ASU plays in a flavorless building while supplying few wins for their 900 fans. U of A took the "payday" of hosting the NIT but decided they didn't need to get ready for the game.
I love the excuse, "We weren't over the Pac-12 Tourney." It's Bucknell! The only people who will offer you any sympathy are KU fans still suffering from Bradley and Bucknell losses in back-to-back years. You're Arizona. You've got the tradition. All we read about is the greatness of Sean Miller and the line of recruits standing at his office door dying to come to Tucson. The best our state could muster in division one college basketball post-season is one-and-done in a 9-point loss in the NIT.
Larry Scott is an unbelievable commissioner. He has done the impossible. He blew every conference out of the water, but what did he sell? The Pac-12 Tournament is the most poorly-attended tournament among BCS conferences and one of the worst attended in all of college basketball. The basketball in the conference is horrific. The two signature programs in the conference are embarrassing themselves. Other than Oregon football fans, there's no fan passions to speak of yet this commissioner has the SEC jealous of the revenue streams.
Ten years ago, the commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference changed the way revenue was distributed in basketball. He forced teams to challenge themselves in their non-conference schedule in an attempt to impress the NCAA Tournament committee. Not only did the number of teams earning at-large bids increase, but also the quality of basketball. As the bar was raised for each program, the quality of recruits choosing MVC schools went up with the bar.
The decision by the Pac-12 to partner with the Big Ten is a strong step in this direction For far too long the number of teams in the Pac-12 truly challenging themselves was minimal. The head coaches in this conference must stop thinking they've arrived. I guarantee few of them recruit or schedule with the same vigor they did when they were mid-major coaches. The same desperate energy they beg from their players needs to be applied to themselves.
The commissioner has done his job to bring the Pac-12 back to the national prominence it once enjoyed. It will be interesting to see if the fans and coaches get the message.