Bubble Watch 2024: Brace yourself for NCAA tournament drama


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This February the Pac-12 is maintaining something close to its customary appearance at Bubble Watch.
Arizona is a lock. Utah is looking like a solid middle seed. Teams like Colorado, Washington State and Oregon are working hard to play their way into the field.
If there’s anything unusual about this picture it’s the absence of traditional NCAA tournament teams UCLA and USC.
In a larger sense, however, the most unusual aspect of the Pac-12’s appearance at Bubble Watch is that it’s destined to be the last such appearance. The Pac-12 won’t be here next basketball season.
Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah are joining the Big 12 for 2024-25. UCLA, USC, Oregon and Washington are headed for the Big Ten. Cal Bears and Stanford will be in the ACC. Oregon State and Washington State will take their basketball to the WCC.
The dissolution of the Pac-12 is coinciding with a men’s basketball season where the league could conceivably put as many as five teams in the field of 68. Such a showing would constitute a fairly strong parting gesture for a league that’s averaged 4.4 bids over the last 10 tournaments.
Arizona has the ability to make the Pac-12’s last ever NCAA tournament something special. The Wildcats are currently projected as a No. 2 seed, but Tommy Lloyd’s team has been vying for a top seed for much of the season.
In each of the last two tournaments, Arizona’s been seeded on either the No. 1 (2022) or No. 2 (2023) lines, and last March UCLA joined the Wildcats as a fellow No. 2 seed. (Of course the favorable position in the 2023 bracket didn’t prevent Arizona from losing to No. 15 seed Princeton in the round of 64.)
Like the Big Ten, the Pac-12 is known for the amount of time that’s passed since the league won its last national championship. Arizona won it all in 1997. How striking it would be if the Wildcats were to repeat as champions in 2024 in the last men’s basketball game in Pac-12 history.
Naturally, contenders like UConn, Purdue, Houston and Tennessee may have something to say about that. The one claim the Pac-12 can already make prior to the NCAA tournament, however, is that the league has the potential to bring down the curtain in style.
Here is our current projection of the bubble:


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