On Thursday night, the Pac-12's subpar season came to an end.
Buffalo did not just beat Arizona -- a trendy pick for a Final Four run -- in Boise, Idaho.
The Bulls made the Wildcats cower. In the final minutes of an 89-68 loss, an Arizona squad down double digits to a 13-seed put up garbage shots and played phantom defense, an apathetic conclusion to its season.
The Wildcats also made history. Since the Big 12 was created in 1996-97, no league among the six major conferences (Power 5 and the Big East) had failed to send a team to the second round until Thursday when the Pac-12 became the first, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Per U.S. Department of Education data, Arizona spends $3.1 million per year on men's basketball. Buffalo spends $500,000. Sean Miller's compensation is $4 million per year and Buffalo coach Nate Oats makes $600,000 annually.
Those advantages did not help the Wildcats in the opening round.
Arizona will share its misery with the rest of the Pac-12, a conference that underperformed and offered little evidence it even belonged in the field.
Arizona State beat Xavier and Kansas before it struggled in league play this season. The selection committee still gave the Sun Devils a bid. What did they do to show their appreciation? In the First Four, they scored 56 points against a Syracuse squad many believe had not earned an at-large berth, either.
A turbulent UCLA squad fumbled a late lead and lost to St. Bonaventure in a First Four matchup, too.
Andy Enfield's USC team, which finished second in the Pac-12 standings, cracked the "snubbed" lists on Selection Sunday. The Pac-12's performance and historic exit from the tournament justified, however, the selection committee's decision to exclude an average team from an average league.
It didn't start this way.
Both Arizona (third) and USC (10th) earned lofty slots in the Associated Press preseason poll. UCLA started at No. 21. Oregon received two votes after adding five-star talent Troy Brown Jr.
Arizona, UCLA, USC, Stanford and Arizona State all had incoming recruiting classes ranked within the top 35, per ESPN.com.
Deandre Ayton, who helped Arizona regain a spot in the national rankings after the team lost three consecutive games in the Battle 4 Atlantis over Thanksgiving weekend, is potentially the No. 1 pick in this summer's NBA draft. And UCLA had turned to Aaron Holiday to replace Lonzo Ball, while USC returned every key player from a season ago. Arizona State's hot start enlarged the school's bandwagon, too.
By the end of night Thursday, however, they were all disappointed.
That's a statement that extends beyond basketball.
The FBI bribery investigation that rocked college basketball has centered on a pair of prominent Pac-12 programs. Former USC assistant Tony Bland was arrested in September and De'Anthony Melton never played in 2017-18 due to his alleged ties to Bland and the probe.
Former Arizona assistant Book Richardson was also arrested in the FBI investigation. Later, ESPN reported Miller had discussed a pay-for-play scheme for the services of Ayton. Miller and Ayton denied the report and the school stuck behind the program.
The league will enter Friday's games without a dog in the fight. The ominous shadow of the FBI investigation and possible fallout will intensify now that the three-bid league is no longer participating in the NCAA tournament.
The Pac-12 is now just left with questions.
Will Steve Alford enter the offseason on the hot seat? What about Enfield?
How quickly will Bobby Hurley put this turbulent season behind him?
And what's the future of Arizona basketball?
The latter is the most complicated question in the conference.
A Miller-led program with Final Four aspirations just lost to an underrated Buffalo team. The Wildcats have no commitments. They're losing every starter.
What about the rest of the Pac-12 and those teams that didn't make the NCAA tournament?
At least three Pac-12 squads will fail to make the top 100 of KenPom.com's final rankings after this mess of a season.
In December, LaVar Ball pulled LiAngelo Ball -- suspended due to his involvement in a theft during an overseas trip to China -- from UCLA's program. He then placed him and younger brother LaMelo Ball in a Lithuanian pro league, terminating their amateur status and ensuring LaMelo would not fulfill his commitment to UCLA.
Critics complained about the limited competition the brothers would face in one of Europe's lesser leagues and suggested the Pac-12 would have helped both develop and thrive.
After Arizona's loss to Buffalo on Thursday, though, the Ball brothers do have this going for them: At least they're still playing.