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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Pac-12′s lost weekend makes one-bid scenario more realistic

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Mike Montgomery and Jorge Gutierrez (US Presswire)

Maybe you had hours of work that needed to be completed by Monday morning. Maybe too many household chores piling up spoiled your plans. Maybe the in-laws were in town for an untimely visit.

Whatever the reason your weekend didn't live up to expectations, here's reason to take solace: You had a better Saturday and Sunday than the Pac-12.

About the only scenario in which the Pac-12 could have been in jeopardy of being a one-bid league entering the weekend was if Washington, Cal and Arizona all dropped road games they were favored to win. Well, the Huskies lost at UCLA, Cal fell at Stanford and Arizona was upset by struggling rival Arizona State, making the league's NCAA tournament picture even gloomier than it had been previously.

[ Related: The latest NCAA tournament field of 68 projection ]

As a result of this weekend's results, not one Pac-12 team can feel confident about its at-large hopes without winning at least one game in the conference tournament at Staples Center this week. Here's a closer look at the Pac-12's four at-large hopefuls ranked in order of best to worst resume entering the conference tournament:

1. Cal (23-8, 13-5, RPI: 36): Even though Cal  finished one game behind Washington in the Pac-12 regular season race, the Bears have a slightly better NCAA tournament resume entering the postseason. They went 3-0 against Washington and Oregon head-to-head, they have respectable computer numbers and while their best non-league win may be Weber State, at least they have no awful losses. Cal had reason to be confident before it lost its final two regular season games at Colorado and Stanford, but now the Bears have work to do in Los Angeles. A Pac-12 quarterfinal win against either Stanford or Arizona State is a must on Thursday. And to feel somewhat safe, the Bears probably want to win a semifinal too, likely against Oregon. 

2. Washington (21-9, 14-4, RPI: 52): It's fitting for this historically bad season in the Pac-12 that Washington learned it was the outright champion while sitting at home on its couch. The Huskies lost a potential clinching game against UCLA on Saturday, but won the title anyway when Cal played one of its worst games of the season at Stanford the following day. Capturing the conference title outright is a good chip for the Huskies, but the question is whether it's enough to outweigh their non-conference failures in the eyes of the selection committee. Washington failed to beat a single RPI Top 100 team out of conference and also lost at Nevada and at home to South Dakota State. Even though the Huskies deserve credit for improving over the course of the season, they would be wise to reach the Pac-12 title game this week to solidify a bid.

[ Related: Creighton boosts seeding with Arch Madness title ]

3. Oregon (22-8, 13-5, RPI: 45): If Washington is the outright Pac-12 champ and Cal has the best resume, then Oregon may be the team that is playing the best out of the three to end the season. The Ducks have won six of seven including a season-ending shellacking of Utah in a game they led 52-14 at halftime. The problem for Oregon like every other Pac-12 team this season is a lack of quality wins. The Ducks have a road win at Arizona and a split with Washington in conference, but they got swept by Cal, they lost to the three best teams they faced out of conference by double figures and the best non-league win they have is either Nebraska or UTEP. While the midseason addition of leading scorer Devoe Joseph certainly bolsters Oregon's argument, the Ducks will need a Pac-12 title game appearance to have a realistic NCAA tournament shot.

4. Arizona (21-10, 12-6, RPI: 76): Arizona's resume was pretty thin even before it dropped a can't-lose game to Arizona State on Sunday, so it's tough to make much of an at-large case for the Wildcats now. They don't have any notable non-league wins, they're 0-3 against Washington and Oregon and they finished fourth in a league that will be lucky if it gets two teams into the field of 68. That's the profile of an NIT team unless Arizona wins the Pac-12 tournament, no easy task considering the Wildcats will likely have to go through UCLA, Washington and either Cal or Oregon to do it.

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