The top four seeds in the NCAA’s West Region would like conference tournament do-overs.
No. 1 Arizona lost in the Pac-12 title game to UCLA. Second-seeded Wisconsin fell to Michigan State in the Big Ten semifinals. Third-seeded Creighton was upset by Providence in Big East championship game, and No. 4 San Diego State dropped the Mountain West title game to New Mexico.
How far do you have to go to find a conference tournament winner? No. 8 Gonzaga won the West Coast Conference title by beating Brigham Young.
No matter. The NCAA Tournament is about new life. Arizona knows about this after carrying on for the last six weeks without power forward Brandon Ashley, who was lost for the season because of a foot injury. The Wildcats lost the game in which he was injured and dropped three more along the way.
Wisconsin had its struggles this season, dropping five of six games before turning the corner. The Badgers are making their 16th straight NCAA appearance under coach Bo Ryan.
Creighton and Nebraska wound up in the same region and could face off against each other in the round of 32. That should happen for the Bluejays, who take on No. 14 Louisiana-Lafayette. The No. 11 Cornhuskers face sixth-seeded Baylor, which won three games in the Big 12 tournament before falling to Iowa State in the final.
The region features perhaps the most intriguing No. 8 vs. No. 9 game, Gonzaga against Oklahoma State. The Zags, a top seed last year, found their stride late this season. The Cowboys lost seven straight at one point before rallying behind guard Marcus Smart.
If the Cowboys win two games, they could be matched against fifth-seeded Oklahoma in the Sweet 16. But the Sooners’ road is tough. If they get by North Dakota State, fourth-seeded San Diego State, which knocked out Oklahoma last year, awaits.