Under the radar, Pac-12 is enjoying a successful postseason run

After serving as the punchline to countless jokes from national media and fans this season — deservedly so, much of the time — runs in postseason play below the NCAA tournament doesn't make up for the Pac-12's underwhelming performance as a whole this season.

But, boy, there's hardly been a league whose teams have been more fun to watch this March, no matter which tournament they're in.

In the NCAAs, Cal's epic First Four flop and Colorado's gutsy, surprising victory over UNLV as an 11 seed in its opener essentially balanced each other out.

Meanwhile, in the NIT and the CBI, the five teams that earned bids so far are a combined 8-1, with the lone loss being Arizona's poor home showing in an NIT-opening loss to Bucknell.

[ By the numbers: Big East and Big Ten teams dominate NCAA tourney so far ]

As for the other four …

• Oregon closed out the regular season by winning six of its last seven games, sort of getting itself back on the bubble before being bounced in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals by a red-hot Colorado squad. The Ducks' response so far has been two blowout victories in the NIT over decent competition in LSU and Iowa. In those two games, while defense hasn't appeared to be too much of a priority, Oregon has combined to score 204 points. If nothing else, the Ducks are a helluva watch.

• Washington, the first "power conference" team in modern NCAA history to win its league's regular-season title and not make the Big Dance, has followed a similar suit. The Huskies have routed UT-Arlington and Northwestern on their home floor to advance to the NIT quarterfinals.

The Ducks and Huskies meet in Seattle on Tuesday night, with a trip to New York City for what is suddenly an intriguing Final Four on the line.

Also on the brink of heading east for the NIT semifinals …

• Stanford hosted Illinois State on Monday night, and what unfolded was arguably one of the best games played this postseason, at least in terms of sheer entertainment value. The Cardinal won its 23rd game of the season by outlasting the Redbirds in overtime, 92-88. The two teams combined to go a ridiculous 27 of 50 from 3-point range, and Stanford needs a similar showing from deep on Wednesday night when it faces another high-powered offensive club in Nevada in the semis in Palo Alto.

• On an even smaller stage, Oregon State and Washington State have advanced to meet each other in the CBI semifinals, blowing out TCU and Wyoming, respectively, in Monday night's second-round action.

The results for those two on Monday were ironic, as the Mountain West emerged as this season's top league out west. And even though it drew four bids to the NCAA tournament and faced generally better postseason competition, the MWC is 3-6 so far this postseason, while the Pac-12 is 11-3.

Again, it's not worth reading into that much when comparing the two. But the Pac-12 has, without question, been one of the more entertaining leagues to watch this postseason. There's a decent amount of young talent in the conference, too, which should lead to helping restore some of the Pac-12's luster next season.

That's worth something, right?

Ryan Greene also covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for RunRebs.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanmgreene.

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