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Olson, facts dispute Big-10 supremacy

By Seth Doria
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 4, 1999
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With seven teams in the latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll, the Big Ten conference has been touted as the toughest conference in the country and prognosticators have said the conference might land eight teams in March's NCAA Tournament.

At the same time, a recent Sports Illustrated tournament preview predicted only four Pacific 10 Conference teams would get into the tournament, with Arizona State, Oregon State and California relegated to the NIT.

But ask a Pac-10 coach or player, and they'll tell you it's the same case of East Coast bias that has plagued the Pac-10 for a long time.

"Will someone tell me what the Big Ten record is in the tournament over the past few years and compare it to the Pac-10's?" Arizona head coach Lute Olson said. "How in the world can they be talking about eight teams from the Big Ten and us struggling to get in four? I don't know what we have to do to market our league, but we're not reaching the right people."

For the record, the Pac-10 has gone 40-18 (.680) in the last five tournaments while the Big-10 has gone 30-29 (.508). The Pac-10 received four tournament bids in every one of those years except for 1995, when five teams made it in. The Big Ten received five bids in 1998 and 1996, six bids in 1995 and 1997 and seven bids in 1994.

The Big Ten's best showing has been Minnesota's 1997 Final Four appearance and Elite Eight performances in 1994 by Michigan and Purdue. The Pac-10 has had two National Champions (UCLA, '95; Arizona, '97), four Final Four teams (Arizona '94, '97; Stanford, '98; UCLA, '95) and six Elite Eight teams (UCLA, '95, '97; Arizona, '94, '97, '98; Stanford, '98). The last Big Ten national champion was the 1989 Michigan Wolverines.

UCLA's Davis reprimanded

After a post-game tirade in which UCLA's Baron Davis singled out referee Terry Christman for cheating, the sophomore point guard was reprimanded by the league.

"Pac-10 rules prohibit public comments on officiating and any individual official," Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen said. "His comments are totally unacceptable."

Davis was required to make a public apology for his remarks and was put on probation.