Everyone wants to make the Final Four and hit the big time in college basketball, but the reasonable standard of excellence for a larger number of programs is not the Final Four. It’s the Sweet 16. The blue-blood programs such as North Carolina, Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, and Connecticut aim for Final Fours and national championships.
For the vast majority of Power Five conference schools, the Final Four isn’t a realistic annual expectation. The Sweet 16 is much more attainable. Getting to the second weekend of March Madness lifts a basketball program above several dozens of competitors — those inside its own conference and those in other Power Five leagues across the country.
As we embark on the last Pac-12 basketball season, we asked our Pac-12 basketball panel how many Sweet 16 teams the Pac-12 will generate this season:
Matt Zemek: three – Colorado, USC, Arizona
Zachary Neel: Two, USC and Arizona
Matt Wadleigh: I’ll go with three: USC and Arizona, then one of UCLA or Colorado.
Don Smalley: Three — Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon