Of the seven Pac-12 teams that made it into the 2016 NCAA Tournament, only Oregon and Utah managed to win their first round games and move ahead to the Round of 32. California, Arizona, Oregon State, Colorado and USC were all higher seeds and lost, making a little bit of conference history.
It’s the first time since 1985 five teams from the same conference lose first round games as higher seeds. It might suggest that the committee overseeded the Pac-12 teams and they got undeserved high RPI for some reason. But being the higher seed doesn’t always make you the favorite in terms of odds. Not every lower seed win is an upset.
Oregon had no problems against Holy Cross. Utah didn’t romp, but looked pretty comfortable against Fresno State. Things should be a bit more difficult for them against Saint Joseph’s, the only #8 seed in the tournament to advance past the first round. Utah also have a pretty difficult challenge in the shape of Gonzaga, a better than most 11-seeds usually are.
So where did the Pac-12 teams fall? California, a #4 seed, provided probably the biggest upset when they lost by 11 points to Hawaii, a team previously with 0 wins in the NCAA Tournament. Further down the line are Arizona (6 seed), who had a bad year by their terms, and struggled against an experienced and disciplined Wichita State.
Oregon State (7 seed) were hoping the Gary Payton II magic and the momentum of being in the tournament for the first time since 1990 would carry them against VCU and were proven wrong. Both Colorado (losing to UConn) and USC (dropped by Providence in a cruel finish) were 8 seeds, so getting knocked out in the first round wasn’t that big of a surprise.