One more win and all four teams on this list can say they have reached the Final Four. For some, this will be the first trip in years. Others may not see it as an accomplishment because they went into the season with real hopes of winning a national title.

The rest of the field was unpredictable. Sixty percent of Pac-12 teams that earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament on selection day are still alive. Only one Big Ten team remains.

Right now, it’s how the team plays and whether we think they can rise that carries the most weight in these rankings. Sure, you can judge Oregon State by its 14-12 record in the regular season – I did and I don’t recommend it – or you can focus on its 9-1 record in its last 10 games. The only thing that seems clear now is that Gonzaga is the best team in America, and Michigan and Baylor would put up a hell of a fight against the Bulldogs if given the chance. The rest of it? Who knows? Certainly not the one that placed Oregon State at #14 and #15 on the updated Sweet 16 list.

Pac-12 fans have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this game. Without further ado, we present our reboot of the Elite Eight:

Go to the tournament and check your bracket!

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (Original serial header number: #1. Serial header number: #1)

Winning a national title with an undefeated record at Indiana State would give Gonzaga a symbolic backdrop for a rare accomplishment. The 1975-76 Hoosiers were the last team to finish a perfect season, and Gonzaga would be the first team to do so since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985. That fluke of history extended Mark Few’s team’s season. Instead of just focusing on the great teams that didn’t win the title after a perfect regular season, it’s also important to celebrate the great teams of recent years that didn’t even make the Final Four. Zion Williamson and Duke in 2019. Kentucky had Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo and De’Aaron Fox and couldn’t get it done in 2017. The year before, 2016 Wooden Award winner Denzel Valentine lost in the first round with Michigan State. Aaron Gordon, T.J. McConnell, Rhonda Hollis-Jefferson and Arizona lost to Wisconsin in 2014.

2 Connected

This annual event, unique in its kind, gobbles up great teams every season. But teams that have failed have not distanced themselves from their rivals, something Gonzaga seems to possess at this point. The team’s 83-65 victory over Creighton on Sunday was a microcosm for the season. Of course you know that Jaylen Suggs, Drew Timm and Corey Kispert are mainstays. But Joel Ayaii (13 points on Sunday) and Andrew Nembhard (17 points) can hurt you, too. USC could make Tuesday’s game interesting – or just another stepping stone to historic success for the Bulldogs.

2. Baylor Bears (original ranking: No. 1. New ranking: No. 1).

The Bears were out of it after Baylor’s 83-74 loss against Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament. Cade Cunningham scored just 25 points and Baylor, the best American team in 3-point shooting, finished 6-for-28. Macio Teague said his team had bigger problems than shooting at that point. Mark Vital said Davion had to guard Mitchell Cunningham the entire game. But since then, the Bears have reminded us why they were the most impressive team in college basketball the past two years.



Drew Timme can’t stop swinging the ring in the second half. Gonzaga leads Creighton 83-65.

They beat Hartford by 24 points in the first round. Against a Wisconsin team that KenPom says is in the top 15 in adjusted defensive efficiency, they scored 119 points on 100 plays. On Saturday, the Bears struggled in the first half against Villanova, but showed their versatility after halftime. Mitchell allowed Baylor to attack the basket and beat a good Villanova team by double digits – despite 6 of 7 missed three-point attempts after halftime.

Baylor takes those shots in a different way than they did in the regular season. But it also looks like this team has regrouped. The bears are getting better. And they look dominant again heading into Monday’s game against Arkansas. They have three players – Jared Butler, Mitchell and Teague – who can overwhelm anyone and use drive or high screens and score 3-pointers. A team without three great one-on-one defenders will have a hard time beating this Baylor team. You can’t focus on one player – like Eric Musselman focused on stopping Max Abmas Oral Roberts on Saturday – and beat this team.

3. Michigan Wolverines (Original site: #1. Re-elected: #1).

Leonard Hamilton has been coaching college basketball since the early 1970s. He’s seen it all. After Florida’s 76-58 loss against Michigan on Sunday, he acknowledged that the Wolverines had problems especially with 6-foot-8 center Hunter Dickinson at the position. This team has done so well, Hamilton said. Their space allocation was incredible. You’ve been very patient. We had trouble turning them over. They were really, really playing with their big boy. We spent so much time protecting Hunter, and they were able to go to their perimeter shooters with about 10 seconds left on the shot clock. They stay true to their system and did everything right until the end. That’s what a good team will do.



Macio Teague finds Adam Flagler in the middle of a run and scores a big 3-pointer. Baylor beat Villanova 62-51.

Juwan Howard has turned Dickinson into a space monster who demands attention and makes life easier for a Michigan team full of talented scorers. In the three NCAA Tournament victories, five different players (Dickinson, Mike Smith, Eli Brooks, Chondy Brown and Brandon Jones) led the team in scoring or shared the lead with a teammate. And it’s safe to say Franz Wagner (13 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block) was Michigan’s MVP on Sunday.

The expected offensive rebound without the injured Leavers did not materialize. Here are Michigan’s points per 100 possessions in its three wins: 114 (South Texas), 119 (LSU), and 112 (Florida State). And all this without the services of a player who averages 13.1 PPG scores and makes 43% of his 3-point attempts. Michigan’s offense continues because the team’s head coach is already one of the best in college basketball. If the Wolverines can get past UCLA in the Elite Eight, they could complicate Gonzaga’s path to the national championship.

4. USC Trojans (original position: #6, new position: #1)

Trojans really know how to jump an opponent. On 1. In December, they beat BYU by 26 points – more than Gonzaga has scored in three wins over the Cougars this season. They beat UCLA in the 6th. February with 18 points. They held Oregon to 14 points in a 22-point victory. February at 58 points. Their combined lead in three wins over Drake, Kansas and Oregon in the NCAA Tournament? 64 points. For some Pac-12 fans, this may be déjà vu. This is the second time the Pac-12 has competed in the Elite Eight and the first time since 2001.



Michigan defender Mike Smith is sent to the sideline for a hard stop as the Wolverines draw a foul in the second half to extend the Wolverines’ lead.

Andy Anfield’s team goes into Tuesday’s game against Gonzaga as an underdog – a feisty underdog with a top player (Evan Mobley) at the helm. USC defeated Oregon State on Sunday – for the second time this season – after beating Iowa in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Trojans delivered two of the most incredible performances of the NCAA Tournament. They shot 61% from the 3-point line in their 85-51 win over Kansas in the second round. The Trojans followed up Sunday with their second Sweet 16 double-digit victory of the season against Oregon (82-68). They made 59% of their three-point attempts in the win, and Isaiah Mobley and Evan Mobley combined for 23 points against the Ducks. But it was Tahj Eddy (20 points, 3-for-6 from the 3-point line) and Isaiah White (22 points, 4-for-5 from beyond the arc) who took advantage of the space Oregon provided to stop Mobley. Tuesday should be fun.

5. Oregon Beavers (original: #12. Recalculated: #2)

Wayne Tinkle knows that feeling when the season ends. After a professional career overseas, he joined his alma mater, Montana State, as a freshman in the 2001-02 season, when the Grizzlies finished with a 13-14 record (7-7 in league games). Montana won the Big Sky Tournament and secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament. This team lost to Oregon in the first round. His current Oregon State team, however, is still enjoying that magical journey that, like Montana’s run to the Conference title nearly 20 years ago, follows no logic.



Evan Mobley leads Oregon State’s offense as USC advances to the quarterfinals.

The truth is that Oregon State plays its best basketball at the most important time of the season. His three wins so far are a statistical anomaly. According to a study of statistics and data from ESPN, no team in 36 years has won three games in the NCAA Tournament as an underdog by six points or more. But on paper it makes sense. Ethan Thompson is a star, and OSU’s three-pointers are falling at a rate that would be unimaginable during the regular season. And the Beavers built a dam around the basket. (Sorry.) All three NCAA Tournament opponents scored no more than 0.97 points per possession, which is the average offensive output of a South Carolina team that finished the season at 6-15.

The Beavers will now face a Houston squad that will have to rely on Quentin Grimes to avoid the problems he had when he was benched early against Syracuse on Saturday. Can Oregon State move on? We probably shouldn’t ask that question anymore.

6. Houston Cougars (Original: #2. Recalculated: #2)

Kelvin Sampson said Saturday that he wasn’t thinking about the historical significance of his team’s 62-46 victory over Syracuse, which sealed the school’s first trip to the Elite Eight in 37 years. In 1984, the last time this happened, Hakeem Olajuwon was a consensus first team All-American for a Houston team that lost to Georgetown in the National Championship Game. I think you have to honor the past, Sampson said after Saturday’s game. I think you have to live in the present. 37 years ago] has nothing to do with our team. Now our team.



Oregon State’s Warit Alatish passes to Ethan Thompson, who catches the ball over his shoulder and attempts a rim slam.

That’s not quite right. Prior to this season, Houston had participated in the NCAA Tournament just six times, following a series in 1984. But the recent investments that have given the school some of the best facilities in the United States are a testament to what the people around the program think it can become. This will not happen without 1984. Without that contest and its impact on the program’s image, Quentin Grimes, the first Associated Press All-American in Houston since Olajuwon, might not have considered returning to Texas after leaving Kansas.

But now that Sampson is mentioned, it’s pretty impressive. Grimes is averaging 18.0 PPG and making 41% of his 3-point attempts. Houston’s three NCAA Tournament opponents shot just 39 percent from beyond the arc. But Grimes needs his attack. It fell apart as he remained on the bench following his second foul in the first half of Saturday’s win over the Orange. But the Cougars know how to win miserably. His path was random. Oregon State will be the fourth double-digit seed this team has faced in the NCAA Tournament.

7. UCLA Bruins (original location: #11, new location: #2)

A few months after accepting the 2019 job, Mick Cronin walked across the UCLA campus without causing an uproar that would have been unlikely during his previous stint at Cincinnati. So it was curious to see how a man from the Midwest like Cronin would adjust to the West Coast and a sports culture that celebrates and expects greatness above all else from its home teams. This terrific Elite Eight run may not be able to match a program inherited from UCLA (yet), but it’s an undeniable sign that Cronin belongs. It is also the final leg of one of the Pac-12’s most memorable tournaments in recent NCAA Tournament history.



Houston guard DeJohn Jarreau provides a steal and a dunk against Syracuse to seal the Cougars’ trip to the Elite Eight.

The Bruins defeated SEC champion of the season and tournament Alabama 88-78. The Crimson Tide made 11 of 25 shots from the free throw line, sealing some history: According to statistics and data from ESPN, this is the first time two teams ranked 11th or lower in the same season have reached the Round of 16. Three of UCLA’s four wins were by double digits. Johnny Juzang has an average of 20.0 PPG. The Bruins won in overtime with two minutes left in regulation.

And now Cronin has a chance at Michigan. Ignore the probabilities in this case. Yes, a win in Game 5 of this tournament would be a monumental task for the Bruins, but Sunday’s win over Alabama was impressive. Nate Oates’ team has been in the top three in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency all season, but UCLA recorded 111 points on 100 possessions against Alabama. Free throw problems were an undeniable factor in Alabama’s loss. But the game also marked the fourth consecutive offensive production by Cronin, who is averaging 78.5 points per game in the NCAA Tournament.

8. Arkansas Razorbacks (original ranking: #3. New ranking: #2).

In 2003, Eric Musselman finished second in the NBA Coach of the Year election. In his first year, he achieved a 38-44 record with the Golden State Warriors – the team won 21 games the season before. That season, he used a 6-foot-4 defenseman named Earl Boykins, who at the time was not a Dark Knight and played 19.4 minutes per game in the league to bolster his bench. Boykins, who is currently director of student-athlete development at Arkansas, averaged 8.8 PPG this season and has moved on to the next chapter of his career as a coveted role player in the NBA. That’s Musselman’s strength. He just seems to know when to bring a player forward.



Jaime Jaquez hit two three-pointers to give UCLA a 77-70 lead over Alabama in overtime.

That was the case this season with Davonte Davis, who earned a 72-70 win in the Razorbacks’ game against Oral Roberts on Saturday. Davis was unsure of himself during the night. The freshman and former top-100 candidate wasn’t even consistent until Musselman took over for him. February against Mississippi State. Arkansas lost just one game (to LSU in the SEC Tournament) and Davis averaged 14.3 PPG as a starter in the NCAA Tournament. Moreover, during their 12-1 run, the Razorbacks averaged 105 points per 100 games with Davis on the court – and just 90 points per 100 games without him ( The game against Baylor in the elite eighth game will be the toughest of the season.

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