Bracketology: The field as it stands and the rise of the Pac-12

Where does the Pac-12 and the rest of the field stand in our latest Bracketology?

Everybody knows about Lonzo Ball and what has happened with the UCLA Bruins this season. But on the same track, everybody knows that their first loss came at the hands of fellow Pac-12 foe Oregon. Not on the road against Kentucky, or against the three Big Ten teams they played this season (Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State), but to Oregon, and it happened because Oregon is really good.

But UCLA and Oregon are not the only good Pac-12 programs.

From top to bottom, the Pac-12 brings lots of talent that is very difficult to beat, even when playing at home. After UCLA and Oregon, the frontrunners to win the league, Arizona follows, then USC and Utah. These are big time programs that are flying under the radar.

The conference also includes Colorado and California, who could easily still make the tournament, despite four early losses for both teams. And right there, that would be seven teams in the Big Dance for the Pac-12.

This number might not be as big as the ACC, or the Big Ten, but seven is substantial, especially for a 12-team conference. Sending over 50 percent of a conference to the tournament is without a doubt a good season for any league.

Currently with four teams in the bracket below, the Pac-12 ranks as the conference with the sixth-most bids, which is not a great year. This, however, is predicted with play through just the first of January. There are a lot of things that can happen between now and Selection Sunday, so a few upsets here, a few upsets there, and all of the sudden the Pac-12 has several teams dancing.

In the end, what really matters is how the conference performs in March (and potentially April), but for now, the Pac-12 conference is in good hands with their top-end, and with a very solid mid-section as well.

Bracket is updated through games on January 1, 2017.

1 VILLANOVA
16 LIU-BROOKLYN/NICHOLLS

8 Michigan
9 Arkansas

4 Butler
13 TENNESSEE STATE

5 Purdue
12 UT-ARLINGTON

6 Florida
11 Rhode Island

3 Creighton
14 FGCU

7 Virginia Tech
10 TCU

2 Duke
15 VERMONT

1 Baylor
16 BUCKNELL/GRAMBLING

8 Clemson
9 Seton Hall

4 Xavier
13 CHATTANOOGA

5 Oregon
12 VALPARAISO

6 Indiana
11 DAYTON

3 West Virginia
14 FORT WAYNE

7 Maryland
10 Miami

2 KENTUCKY
15 EASTERN WASHINGTON

1 UCLA
16 UC-DAVIS

8 CINCINNATI
9 Iowa State

4 Florida State
13 NEVADA

5 Notre Dame
12 NC-WILMINGTON

6 USC
11 Kansas State/SMU

3 Virginia
14 AKRON

7 Northwestern
10 Texas A&M

2 GONZAGA
15 WINTHROP

1 KANSAS
16 NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL

8 Minnesota
9 WICHITA STATE

4 Arizona
13 MONMOUTH

5 North Carolina
12 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

6 St. Mary’s
11 Michigan State/VCU

3 WISCONSIN
14 NEW MEXICO STATE

7 South Carolina
10 Oklahoma State

2 Louisville
15 BROWN

Last Four In: VCU, Michigan State, Kansas State, SMU

First Four Out: Pittsburgh, Illinois, Texas Tech, NC State

Bids by Conference Breakdown:

ACC: 9    Big Ten: 8

Pac-12: 4    Big 12: 8

Big East: 5    SEC: 5

A-10: 3    West Coast: 2

And that marks the end of this week’s edition of Bracketology. Conference play has begun and now the season has really started to get underway.

Comment below, or tweet at @bustingbrackets or @hardwiredsports to discuss this week’s Bracketology. May your bubble remain intact throughout the next stretch of games.