March Madness tipped off this week with the First Four matchups, which saw Radford, St. Bonaventure, Texas Southern and Syracuse advance. Among those ousted were UCLA and Arizona State. Although he attended the University of Arizona, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton is not one to pay much attention to the NCAA tournament.
It’s understandable, of course, given he’s tasked with guiding the Lakers back to prominence. With little time to spare, Walton said he hasn’t watched much men’s college basketball, and repeatedly stated his pick to win the championship are his Wildcats, simply out of loyalty.
But with that, Walton had enough sense to champion the Pac-12 as deserving to have more representation than the Arizona State Sun Devils, Bruins and Wildcats.
“You know what it is,” Walton began when asked why the conference only had three teams named to the tournament. “It’s East Coast bias. It is every year. There should be more than three Pac-12 teams in the tournament.”
Arguably the biggest snub this year was USC being left out of the dance. The Trojans went 23-11 and reached the Pac 12 conference title game, where they were defeated by Walton’s Wildcats. with an RPI of 34, the Trojans became the highest major conference team to ever be left out of the 68-team tournament.
Meanwhile, Pac-12 champions Arizona, were given a four seed in the South region. “I think when Miles Simon was a four seed, that’s when they won the national championship,” Walton said. “So we’ll get our second one this year.”
Of course, his stance that the Pac-12 was deserving of more teams took a big hit as the Bruins failed and Sun Devisl failed to win their play-in game.