APTOPIX P12 Oregon Washington Basketball

Oregon celebrates after defeating Washington 68-48 in an NCAA college basketball game in the final of the Pac-12 men's tournament Saturday, March 16, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Sean Miller couldn’t get his Arizona Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament field, nor could he help his brother do the same with Indiana.

But at least the Pac-12 earned three NCAA Tournament bids in exactly the same manner as Miller described last week as a “utopia” scenario — that is, having Oregon win the Pac-12 Tournament, with Washington and ASU gaining at-large bids.

The Ducks were given a No. 12 seed — indicating they would not have made the field if they didn’t beat Washington in the Pac-12 Tournament final — while the Huskies earned a No. 9 seed and ASU squeaked into a play-in game for a No. 11 seed.

“Maybe if a team like Oregon can get all the way to the (Pac-12) championship. … “ Miller said last Monday. “Utopia would be three teams. I sure hope we could get at least two in, but there’s some other conferences that have a pretty good argument.”

However, Archie Miller’s Indiana team finished 17-15 and missed the field despite having six Quadrant 1 wins, a qualification Sean Miller defended Monday.

“He kind of skews the argument toward a team like that,” Sean Miller said of his brother. “I think they played more quad one games than maybe any team in the nation. If you were a team like Indiana, what you would say is like, ‘Man, how couldn’t that have great meaning.'"

Arizona finished the season 2-8 against teams that made the NCAA Tournament field: The Wildcats lost twice to Oregon and ASU, lost to Washington and Baylor at home, and beat Montana at home. In the Maui Invitational, they beat sixth-seeded Iowa State but lost to Gonzaga and Auburn. 

The hottest team in the Pac-12, if not anywhere, Oregon has a chance to reach the Sweet 16 with a first-round game against Wisconsin in San Jose, just a short flight away. The winner of that game will face the winner between Kansas State and UC Irvine.

No. 12 seeds beat No. 5 seeds 34.6 percent of the time, making them often a trendy upset pick in NCAA Tournament brackets.

Contact sports reporter Bruce Pascoe at 573-4146 or bpascoe@tucson.com. On Twitter @brucepascoe


Bruce is a veteran Star sports reporter who has also worked at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He graduated from Northwestern University and has an MBA from Thunderbird.