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Return of the PAC?

It's been a rough decade for the Pac-12. With an inept commissioner in Larry Scott, the conference has mustered only two Final Four appearances and two playoff berths in college football. It has caused immense frustration among Pac-12 fans, calling for the commissioner to step down.

However, there's new hope on the horizon and it comes in the form of college basketball, specifically on the men's side. Last season, four Pac-12 schools went on a crazy run, demolishing everything in their paths. UCLA, USC, Oregon, and Oregon State went on mind-blowing runs, leading to a Final Four berth.

Piggybacking off the success of last season's tournament, the Pac-12 has returned to relevancy... at least on the hardcourt. While Oregon has slipped in men's basketball (and even women's basketball to a degree), schools like Arizona have stepped up.

The Wildcats pulled a major upset over the #4 Michigan Wolverines at the Roman Main Event last Sunday, 80-62. They also have a respectable win over Wichita State at that tournament, boosting their resume further. Arizona's return to the college basketball landscape has given the conference some credibility.

It isn't just Arizona that has boosted the conference in basketball, though. It's also UCLA returning to their blueblood status. Already, they have a marquee victory over a solid Villanova team and are keeping their Final Four form with Johnny Juzang and Jamie Jaquez playing well.

It's also USC not missing a beat, even without Evan Mobley. The Trojans still have the other Mobley brother in Isaiah, and Boogie Ellis (17 PPG) has proven to be a great guard. Schools like Colorado, Utah, and Washington State have stepped up, making them dark horses to make the tournament.

The conference's schools have also made it a point to schedule challenging games against potential March Madness opponents. UCLA has already faced Villanova and Gonzaga and will face North Carolina in December. The Buffaloes of Colorado will face off against Kansas and Tennessee, while Arizona will also face Tennessee and will square up against Illinois. Even schools like Utah have a matchup against an OOC-ranked team (BYU).

All the talk about the Pac-12 fading into obscurity may just be limited to football. If the conference boosts its credibility with another strong showing in this year's tournament, it'll be hard to ignore the Conference of Champions returning to the throne.

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