Photo by Associated Press.
Originally Published: March 14, 2018 11:29 p.m.
DAYTON, Ohio — UCLA played one of its worst games. Arizona State finished with a season low in points. With the First Four finished, there's only one Pac-12 team left for the main draw in the NCAA Tournament.
It's a Pac-1 show the rest of the way, with the league's hopes all resting on Arizona after the league took a double blow in Dayton.
UCLA was relegated to the First Four for the first time in its storied NCAA Tournament history, which includes 18 Final Four appearances. The Bruins matched their season high with 20 turnovers, helping St. Bonaventure get its first NCAA Tournament victory in 48 years on Tuesday night with a 65-58 win.
A day later, Arizona State was stymied by Syracuse's zone defense and lost 60-56, by far the Sun Devils' worst offensive showing of the season. Neither UCLA nor Arizona State managed to hit the 60-point mark at University of Dayton Arena.
"This feeling right now — it stings, it burns," said Kodi Justice, who led Arizona State with 15 points.
There's a lot of that going around his league.
The Pac-12 entered the tournament with one boast: the only conference to get a team to the Elite Eight in each of the last four seasons. Arizona made it in 2014 and 2015, Oregon the next two years.
This year, it's more of an NIT outfit.
The Pac-12 managed to get only three teams into the NCAA Tournament, with fourth-seeded Arizona the only one in the main draw. The Wildcats play Buffalo in Boise in the South Region.
One is such a lonely number, given how the other conferences fared.
The Atlantic Coast Conference matched its own record of nine tournament teams when Syracuse squeezed into the field as the final one. And then the Orange squeezed the Pac-12 down to one team for the opening round.
The Southeastern Conference set a league record with eight teams in the tournament. The Big 12 got seven teams. The Big East has six, including No. 1 seeds Villanova and Xavier. The Pac-12 was tied with the Atlantic 10 and the American Athletic Conference with three apiece.
Instead, the Pac-12 sent five teams to the National Invitation Tournament, the most ever for the conference. USC, Utah, Oregon, Stanford and Washington are competing for that other title.
The Pac-12 was in a similar predicament in 2012. California lost to South Florida in Dayton, leaving Colorado as the league's only team in the main draw as an 11 seed. Colorado won its first game before getting knocked out.