The East Coast bias in all sports remains strong, but there’s no reason for us to pile on here — the majority of the U.S. population is situated along the East Coast, and that’s simple fact.
But there’s also the fact that the schools out West play some pretty good basketball, especially in the Pac-12, a conference with a laundry list of NCAA records and the most legendary coach in the game’s history in John Wooden.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama revealed his choices in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, picking Ohio State, Indiana, Louisville and Florida. Not surprisingly, he like most, didn’t give the teams out West any love, picking all five Pac-12 teams — Oregon, Cal, UCLA, Colorado and Arizona — to lose in the second round (the play-in games are weirdly now considered first-round games). Three of those five would be upsets on paper, but the Oregon / Oklahoma State game is for all intents and purposes one that the Ducks should come away with as a typical No. 5-No.12 matchup that has been one of true parity every year.
Oregon, which won the conference in a sound defeat of the UCLA Bruins, was already slighted by the selection committee by getting a No. 12 seed. According to the good folks over at Sportsbook.com, Oregon is a 3-point underdog, but the betting action has clearly favored Oregon:
If Oregon beats Oklahoma State, can you really call it an upset, @sportsbook_com?
— Michael C. Jones (@MikeJonesTweets) March 19, 2013
— Sportsbook ® (@Sportsbook_com) March 19, 2013
Does President Obama really believe the Pac-12 is that bad, or is he just perpetuating the same rhetoric that caused Oregon to get that No. 12 seed in the first place? Elsewhere in his bracket, he seems to sway toward the former.
In the West Region, the President has No. 11 Belmont upsetting No. 4 Arizona in Round 1. Arizona struggled in conference play against the elite teams, going a combined 2-6 against tourney-bound Pac-12 teams. But they also had key non-conference wins against the likes of Florida (a No. 3 seed), San Diego State (No. 13 seed) and No. 1 Miami as their biggest win of the season. They are battle-tested, played in an underrated, tough conference and still get slighted in favor of Belmont?
Something is wrong with that picture.
Next, Obama picks No. 6 UCLA to fall to No. 11 Minnesota, which to be fair, is a worthy upset pick since the Bruins lost star freshman guard Jordan Adams for the year during the Pac-12 Tournament. In itself, it’s not a bad pick, but considering he’s blatantly disregarded every other Pac-12 team, it points to a trend that our Commander-in-Chief, like everyone else back East, tends to brush all things out West aside.
He has tenth-ranked Colorado falling to No. 7 Illinois. Even though it’s his home state, that pick makes sense. Illinois has been in intense competition on a nightly basis playing in the Big Ten, which has been by far the best conference in college hoops this year.
Cal is another 12-seed, and they have a chance to beat anyone when Pac-12 Player of the Year Allen Crabbe is at his best. But apparently, they will be watching most of the tournament in favor of UNLV if the President has his way.
Here’s to rooting for the Pac-12 to prove the leader of the free world, and just about everyone else in the United States wrong. Let the madness begin.