As the Conference of Champions evolved into a 10-school league late in the 1970s, a new basketball power would emerge in the conference by the end of the 1980s. Which school would that be?
Read on to find out on Pac-12 Friday! No shopping deals here, though … Sorry.
Honorable Mention: 1984 Washington Huskies (24-7)
This team finished 15th in the Associated Press poll and advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing to unranked Dayton. Along the way, the Huskies beat ranked squads from Oregon State and UCLA to claim the conference title and then beat No. 14 Duke to reach NCAA Regionals.
10. 1986 Arizona Wildcats (23-9)
This squad was never ranked all year, despite finishing atop the conference with a 14-4 league record. An early loss to ranked UNLV by one point on a neutral court was the only game the Wildcats played against a ranked team all year, so the SOS wasn’t very strong.
9. 1985 Washington Huskies (22-10)
Winners of the league with a 13-5 conference record, the Huskies defeated ranked teams from Arizona and Oregon State on the way to the regular-season title. Losses to the three best teams on the schedule—Duke, Georgia Tech, and Kentucky—by an average of just nine points per game showed Washington to be a solid squad that finished 25th in the SRS.
8. 1980 Oregon State Beavers (26-4)
Corvallis had a mini-dynasty of sorts in the beginning of the decade, as this team was ranked No. 5 in the final AP poll of the regular season. A 16-2 record in conference earned the Beavers a league championship, but unfortunately, Oregon State was upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The team never lost to a ranked team during the season.
7. 1987 UCLA Bruins (25-7)
Ranked 15th at the start of March Madness, these Bruins won the league title with a 14-4 conference record. They started the season with a victory over then-No. 1 North Carolina and won the league tournament with three wins by an average of almost 12 points per game. Sadly, though, UCLA was upset in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
6. 1983 UCLA Bruins (23-6)
This group beat ranked teams from Iowa and Louisville before posting a 15-3 record in league play to win the conference title. A No. 7 rank in the SRS really shows how good this team was, and the AP poll also ranked UCLA No. 7 at the end of the regular season. But the Bruins were upset in the Big Dance by future league foe Utah before reaching the Sweet 16.
5. 1981 Oregon State Beavers (26-2)
The Beavs started the season by winning their first 26 games before losing the regular-season finale to No. 5 Arizona State and then dropping their NCAA Tournament opener to Kansas State by two points. That was an abrupt and rough finish to an otherwise stellar season that featured a No. 2 AP poll rank and a No. 2 finish in the overall SRS.
4. 1989 Stanford Cardinal (26-7)
The only team on this list that did not win the league title, Stanford still posted a 15-3 record in conference play while finishing No. 12 in the SRS and No. 13 in the final AP poll. It was a great season until this third-seeded group dropped its March Madness opener to Siena College by two points.
3. 1982 Oregon State Beavers (25-5)
The last of the dominant Oregon State squads in the early decade, the Beavers finished the regular season ranked No. 4 in the AP poll after winning the conference with a 16-2 league mark. Oregon State then beat No. 8 Idaho in the Sweet 16 before losing to No. 6 Georgetown in the Elite 8.
2. 1989 Arizona Wildcats (29-4)
What a team! It was No. 1 in the final AP poll and No. 1 in the SRS, too, and overall, Arizona went 17-1 in conference play to win the league title—losing only to Stanford by five points on the road. Despite beating UNLV by double digits early in the season, the Wildcats lost a rematch in the Sweet 16 by one point to fall short of a second-straight Final Four appearance.
1. 1988 Arizona Wildcats (35-3)
A No. 2 finish in both the AP poll and the SRS, this team still tops its successor above. Why? A 7-1 record against ranked teams is one reason why, as the Wildcats beat the first 7 ranked opponents they faced during the season before losing in the Final Four to No. 4 Oklahoma by single digits. Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr was a senior on this team.