2011 NCAA TOURNAMENT: Pac-10 Gets Four In, WSU Predictably Left Out

Well, that was incredibly painful to watch.

When USC is in ... when Alabama-Birmingham is in ... when Virginia Commonwealth is in ... it's really, really, REALLY hard not to dwell on what could have been for WSU. We'll never know for sure how many more wins it would have taken to get into the field, but one can now surmise it wouldn't have been very many.

Wins over Stanford and/or ASU? One more win over UW? Beating UCLA at home? 

So many what-ifs. I'll say this, though: Who knows if all four of those things would have even done the trick. Colorado wasn't even really considered on the bubble by most people, and they're now in the same spot as WSU -- headed for the NIT. The selection of the final 10 teams or so seems so screwy, I don't think you can say for sure exactly what WSU would have needed to do to get into the field.

So it goes.

Here are some quick thoughts on the Pac-10, which got four teams in the field. The seeding seems pretty fair to me, all things considered:

  • No. 5 seed Arizona
  • No. 7 seed Washington
  • No. 7 seed UCLA
  • No. 11 seed USC

Arizona's seed makes sense to me. While they won the Pac-10 regular season title, their resume is little more than solid. No big wins, no bad losses, and lost to all of the conference's three other tournament teams in the final three weeks of the season.

A little surprised that UW went all the way up to a 7, but the committee showed that it valued conference tournament performance, so there you go. UCLA at a 7 seems about right given the Bruins' inconsistency. And USC one of the final four in? We can argue about whether they belong in*, but if they're in, one of the last four in (as they are, since they're in a play-in game) is correct, too.

*Note to every other team: Make sure an important player doesn't play for the first month so you have an excuse when you have 14 losses.

As for each team's chances? At first blush, I like Arizona's draw. Memphis needed a bit of a miracle to beat UTEP just to get in the field, and are rated No. 85 by KenPom.com. If they get past the Tigers, they'll likely face Texas. That will be one heck of a matchup: Both teams are exceptional shooting the ball and preventing shooting, and both teams feature a great big man (Tristan Thompson vs. Derrick Williams). Should be fun.

I don't think UW will have that much trouble with Georgia, and if they can get past the Bulldogs, North Carolina awaits. That game could be played at 80 possessions. UNC's size up front will pose all kinds of issues for the Huskies. UCLA vs. Michigan State is fascinating to me. Both had pretty dramatic ups and downs this year, and I think both teams are capable of laying an enormous egg in the first round. For that reason, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the Bruins made it into the second weekend by beating both MSU and Florida.

As for the Trojans ... well, let's just say I think they'll take apart VCU, which has some pretty terrible losses on its resume and a number of narrow wins over some really bad teams. (Which more or less explains their No. 84 kenpom.com rating, by the way.) When they beat the Rams handily, they'll face Georgetown -- another highly beatable team. If they can get that far, I don't like their chances against Purdue. Not only will they be playing their third game in about five days, they'll be doing it with one of the shortest rotations in the tournament. 

We'll be along later with a thread dedicated to the NIT selection show, which is at 6 p.m. on ESPNU. 

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