League favorite Arizona has made it to the PAC 12 championship final by outlasting UCLA last night, 70-64. But while most expected their opponent to be Utah, the Utes were beaten at the buzzer by Oregon. Utah fell off dramatically at the end of the season and will likely have trouble remaining in the top 20 when the updated rankings come out Monday.
In the always tough ACC, the two top teams, Virginia and Duke, both lost and will now sit home and rest and prepare for the grueling round of 64 in the NCAAs to start next week. Virginia's loss to North Carolina surprised me, but you can never count a Carolina team out until the buzzer. And as for Duke, while they certainly would rather win, Coach K can sometimes turn the extra rest time generated by the loss into a great stretch run.
Kentucky remains undefeated and rolls on, looking like a jugernaut that anyone will have trouble handling, although when March Madness kicks in, don't be shocked by anything. Wisconsin and Maryland are looking like the best of the Big 10 and Villanova is another team likely to gain a regional top seed.
Many prognosticators are predicting the number one seeds in the four regions to be Kentucky, Duke, Virginia and Villanova when they are announced following the final round of conference championship games Sunday afternoon. I'm not sure that two losing teams in conference tournaments deserve that honor, yet I am no expert on the power rankings and exactly how they work. In any event, this weekend provides a great way to forget your troubles before you try to figure out how you can get your work done while sneaking a peak at all the action next week.
This is the one stretch during the year when I truly love basketball; I must confess that I check the scores all season but don't pay attention to too many games until it comes to crunch time, which begins at the end of this weekend. The pressure, the one loss and you're out, and the color of determined players and screaming fans (and sometimes coaches as well) makes for quite a spectacle which is now a true American sports treasure. So buckle up and get ready, for tournament weekend, followed by March Madness and the Road to the Final four are here in full force. Enjoy.