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Tournament Selection Committee overrated the Pac 12

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One week ago the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, to no one’s surprise, awarded seven bids to the ACC, Big 12 and Big 10 Conference. It did come as a surprise to some when the Pac 12 was awarded seven slots as well.

While the other leagues suffered an upset here or there, the Pac 12 went down in flames. When Oregon takes the court Sunday night against St. Joseph’s, the Ducks will be the sole representative of the Pac 12.

The committee thought very highly of the league, giving every selected team no worse than a No. 8 seed. Oregon was awarded the top seed in the West Regional with a 28-6 record heading into the tournament.

California was handed a No. 4 seed despite finishing the season with 10 losses. Just to compare, Indiana had seven losses and won the Big 10 regular season championship, but received no better than a five seed.

Utah, with eight losses, began the tournament as a three seed, while Colorado was seeded eighth with 11 losses. Oregon State and Southern California, each with 12 losses, earned seven and eight seeds, respectively. With eight losses, Arizona was probably seeded correctly at six.

Somehow, the selection committee felt the Pac 12 was on par, or better, than the other power conferences top-to-bottom. How did all of that work out?

Five of those seven teams did not survive the first round. All five of the losing teams were seeded higher than the one that vanquished them. Eleventh-seeded Wichita State manhandled Arizona, while USC was taken out by ninth-seeded Providence.

Colorado gave up a big lead and lost to Connecticut, while Virginia Commonwealth, a 10 seed, dispatched Oregon State. California was humbled by 13th-seeded Hawaii.

Only Utah and Oregon won their first round games. On Saturday night, the 11th-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs destroyed the Utes 82-59 in the second round.

Oregon needs to make it to the Final Four to justify their seeding. Their conference brethren failed miserably to justify theirs.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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