The Oregon Ducks came up just short in their quest to upset the No. 1 team in the KenPom rankings last night, as the Virginia Cavaliers escaped with a 53-49 victory over the Ducks in the Sweet 16.

We suspected Virginia would win, using the descriptor “barely” in our Sweet 16 predictions yesterday. Yet what this game showed the nation was something we already knew: The Pacific-12 Conference Tournament champions were capable of pushing the ACC regular-season champions down to the final seconds of an NCAA Tournament elimination game.

The Conference of (real NCAA) Champions posted a 6-4 record in postseason play this year, which includes the Colorado Buffaloes’ 2-1 record in NIT action. That’s not bad for a conference everyone slammed this year.

And if the Pac-12 tournament champ can stand toe-to-toe with the best in the country in crunch time, then it says a lot about the quality of play out West that no one wants to acknowledge—because the advertising dollars are not there.

Colorado should have been in the NCAA Tournament, for starters. As noted when we slammed the Selection Committee’s choices a few weeks ago, there were lesser teams picked ahead of Colorado, simply because of conference reputation put forth by the media (lookin’ at you, St. John’s, for one).

And yes, Lipscomb is in the Final Four of the NIT, with something to prove.

But we digress: While California and Washington State may have stunk this season in Pac-12 men’s basketball, the rest of the league wasn’t that bad. The Ducks overcame injury and adversity to finish 9-9 in conference play before winning ten straight games to reach the Sweet 16 … and almost knocked off the most-efficient team in the country.

Did we mention the Pac-12 wasn’t as bad as everyone thought it was?