It will be a unique setting in Las Vegas this week, as for the first time in league history the Pac-12 Conference tournament will feature three teams ranked in the top 10.

Still, if CU head coach Tad Boyle had his way, the league profile would more closely resemble what the Pac-12 put together last year.

When the tournament begins Wednesday at the new T-Mobile Arena, it will be a field highlighted by No. 3 UCLA, No. 5 Oregon, and No. 7 Arizona. However as the tournament begins the only other Pac-12 team on the favorable side of the NCAA Tournament bubble is USC, whose credentials nonetheless will take a serious hit with an early exit in Vegas.

Last year, the Pac-12 sent a conference-record seven teams to the NCAA Tournament. Despite the star power provided by this season's top-10 programs, Boyle would prefer to see more league teams making a mark at the national level.

"The more bids our league can get, the better it is for everybody. There's no question about that," Boyle said. "To have three teams at the level that they are (this year) I think is good for our league as well. What you'd like to have is both. That's what some of the other leagues have.

"I like last year when there was seven bids better than this year when there's three or four."


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Despite solid regular-season records from Utah (20-10) and Cal (19-11), neither of those teams' RPI is strong enough to merit NCAA consideration. Utah began the week at No. 72, though a swooning Cal team that checks in at No. 55 could bolster its credentials with a strong Pac-12 tournament despite losing five of its past six games.

"That onus is on two things — it's on scheduling right. It's our job as head coaches in this league to schedule right not only for ourselves, but for the league," Boyle said. "And the second thing is we have to win games in November and December. Last year, when we got seven teams in, I thought every team did that. Every team did their job in terms of how they scheduled, and every team did their job in terms of winning in November and December.

"This year, some people fell short. We fell short in winning games. I don't think our schedule was at fault. What was at fault for us was winning games."

Honored

USC guard Jordan McLaughlin won the final Pac-12 Player of the Week honor of the season, winning for the second time this year.

McLaughlin helped the Trojans end a four-game losing streak with victories against Washington State and Washington, averaging 19 points in the two wins. McLaughlin shot 14-for-23 overall with a 6-for-11 mark on 3-pointers, scoring 16 points with a career-high nine rebounds and 10 assists against Washington State before recording 22 points, nine assists, and four steals against Washington.

McLaughlin, who was an honorable mention selection to the All-Pac-12 team released Monday, is the first USC player to earn multiple league Player of the Week honors in the same season since Harold Miner in 1991-92.

Notable

With 14 rebounds against UCLA, Washington State senior Josh Hawkinson became his program's all-time leading rebounder. Hawkinson's 1,003 rebounds ranks 12th all-time in the Pac-12...UCLA's Lonzo Ball has set the Pac-12 record for assists by a freshman with 241.

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07