ANAHEIM, Calif. – On Selection Sunday, seven Pac-12 teams secured invitations to the NCAA tournament, a record for the league.
"The Pac-12 was as deep as any conference in the nation this season and we are thrilled the committee rewarded the great play of our teams," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement that evening. "We look forward to our deserving student-athletes competing deep into the tournament."
However, six of those teams failed to advance to the Sweet 16, and five didn’t reach the second round. Oregon, which will face Duke at the Honda Center on Thursday, is the league’s lone survivor and hope in the Sweet 16.
But Elgin Cook said that status does not change anything for the team and how it views its matchup against the Blue Devils, who defeated Yale in the second round.
“It’s no pressure on us,” he said. “We’re just coming in and trying to play Oregon basketball and just trying to add another game to the win column.”
Dana Altman said it’s not fair to judge a league off NCAA tournament results alone, but he understands why some folks criticized the Pac-12’s postseason missteps.
“I’m a little disappointed, like everyone in the Pac-12, that we didn’t fare a little better here in the tournament, but it doesn’t take anything away from a great year, and I think the future is really good for our league,” Altman said Wednesday. “But we haven’t done well, and that’s fair. We’ll take criticism for that. But, again, we had a good year.”
The Ducks’ two NCAA tournament wins were twice the tally the rest of the league accrued. Utah, which lost to Gonzaga by 23 points in the second round on Saturday, is the only other Pac-12 squad that recorded a win in the NCAA tournament via last week’s first-round victory over Fresno State.
Dillon Brooks said he’s not fearful of Oregon’s status, whether desired or not, as the Pac-12’s torchbearer in the Sweet 16.
“We came in first in the Pac-12, so it was bound for us to be this far, leading the Pac-12,” he said. “We’re just going to go out there, execute the game plan and try to keep on winning.”