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Others See Five Pac-10 NCAA Bids

February 12, 2001|MIKE TERRY

There may be pessimism at USC about five Pacific 10 Conference teams getting bids to the NCAA tournament next month. But some Pac-10 coaches believe the conference is having the kind of season that warrants receiving that many slots, which hasn't happened since the 1996-97 season.

Incidentally Arizona was the fifth-place team that season and won the national title.

"This is a strong year in the Pac-10 and I believe our [top] five teams are deserving to go," California Coach Ben Braun said. "We're as good as any leagues around. You can see by our RPI power ratings that we are a solid group."

In the Rating Percentage Index (RPI), used by the NCAA since 1981 to supplement the selection of at-large teams and the seeding of all teams for the NCAA tournament, Stanford is second, UCLA eighth, Arizona 15th, USC 20th and Cal 22nd.

"We definitely should have five," Arizona Coach Lute Olson said. "And with Oregon's nonconference record, if they can make a strong run in the second half they could have a shot. But among our top five teams, I can't see how any can be kept out without a second-half collapse."

Stanford Coach Mike Montgomery, however, was not so sure.

"A lot of the preseason schedules will come into play at some point and that could hurt some teams," Montgomery said. "There's no question four teams will get in. But trying to get a fifth team in . . . will be difficult. I would not want to be the fifth-place team, I'll put it that way."

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