It was not a good NCAA Tournament last season for the three most important local conferences: Pac-12 (Utah), West Coast Conference (BYU) and Mountain West Conference (Utah State).
Not a single team from those three conferences reached the Elite 8. Only Arizona (No. 6 seed) and Oregon (No. 12 seed) reached the Sweet 16. Even then, Arizona benefited from playing No. 14 seed Harvard in the second round, while Oregon benefitted from playing No. 4 seed Saint Louis.
WCC champion Gonzaga went into the tournament as a No. 1 seed, but did not live up to that billing in losing in the second round (not counting the “play-in” round) to Wichita State.
San Diego State (No. 7 seed), Colorado State (No. 8 seed) and Cal (No. 12 seed) also lost in the second round, while New Mexico (No. 3 seed), UNLV (No. 5 seed), UCLA (No. 6 seed), Colorado (No. 10 seed), Saint Mary’s (No. 11 seed) and Pacific (No. 15 seed), then of the Big West Conference, all lost in the first round. Boise State lost as a No. 13 seed in the play-in round.
BYU, Utah and Utah State (playing in its final year in the Western Athletic Conference) all missed the NCAA Tournament.
The Cougars, after a fairly disappointing season, put it together in the postseason and made a run to the Final Four of the NIT before losing a close game to Baylor.
The Aggies also had a down season, failing to advance to the semifinals of the WAC Tournament when they were upset by University of Texas-Arlington to end their season.
The Utes, meanwhile, showed improvement, finishing 15-18 (5-13 Pac-12), after going 6-25 (3-15) the previous season. Utah was picked to finish ninth in the Pac-12 preseason media poll this season, led by third-team All-Pac-12 selection Jordan Loveridge.
In preparing this first set of power rankings for these combined conferences, the results of last season were considered fairly significantly. As the season progresses, what happened in the past will become less and less relevant because there will be more games from this season by which to judge the teams.
Although last year is relevant to these first power rankings, the most weight is still given to impressive victories this season, such as Oregon’s over Georgetown; Arizona’s at San Diego State; BYU’s at Stanford and Arizona State’s at UNLV. Thus far no team from these three conferences has defeated a team that is currently ranked.
Nate Gagon is a published sports, music, and creative writer. He is also a wholehearted father, grateful husband and ardent student of life. He shoots roughly 94% from the free throw line and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or @nategagon.