2014-15 Pac-12 Year in Review
The Conference’s nine NCAA titles came in the form of four men’s and four women’s, and one combined team title. Five different league schools claimed NCAA titles and, of the seven NCAA institutions to have won multiples titles, three were from the Pac-12. No other conference in the country had more than one team win multiple NCAA titles.
OREGON was one of only two programs in the country to win three NCAA titles this academic season. The Ducks successfully defended its indoor and outdoor NCAA Track & Field titles, and also won the women’s outdoor crown for the first time in 30 years. It is the second straight year UO has won three national titles in an academic year. COLORADO and STANFORD each claimed a pair of titles, as well. The Buffaloes claimed the academic year’s first NCAA title, taking home its second-straight men’s cross country crown in dominating fashion, posting a 33-point margin of victory. Colorado then grabbed the hardware in skiing, their third in five years. STANFORD extended its streak of winning NCAA Championships to 39 years, winning the women’s water polo championship for a second-straight year and the program’s first-ever women’s golf crown.
In addition to the nine national championships, the Pac-12 also had runners-up in 11 NCAA Championship events: men’s cross country (STANFORD), men’s soccer (UCLA), men’s water polo (USC), women’s gymnastics (UTAH), men’s gymnastics (STANFORD), men’s swimming (CALIFORNIA), women’s indoor track & field (OREGON), men’s golf (USC), rowing (CALIFORNIA), women’s tennis (UCLA) and women’s water polo (UCLA). Overall, the Conference had 31 teams finish in the top four at 19 NCAA Championship events, including an all-Pac-12 women’s water polo final four.
Participation in the postseason was a common occurrence for the Pac-12 in 2014-15. Of the 22 sports sponsored by the Conference, 20 witnessed at least half its teams participating in NCAA or other postseason action. The men sent 67 of a possible 97 teams into the postseason (69.1 percent), while the women sent 79 of a possible 115 teams (68.7 percent).
Eight Pac-12 teams earned bowl bids with Pac-12 Champion OREGON reaching the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship Game. League teams produced a 6-3 record, equaling the record for wins achieved in 2013 when the Conference had a league-record eight teams play in bowl games for the second-straight year. Despite losing in the title game, the Ducks produced the only 13-win season on record in Pac-12 history. For the first time in league history, four teams won 10 or more games, while six had at least nine wins. A record-tying eight teams boasted a winning record for the third-consecutive year. UO claimed the Pac-12 crown for the second time in four years by virtue of a 51-13 win over South Division Champion ARIZONA. The Pac-12 Football Championship Game was held at a neutral site for the first time in the Game’s brief four-year history and was played at the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The Wildcats went on to play in the VIZIO Fiesta Bowl. Also joining Oregon and UA in the postseason were UTAH (Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl), ARIZONA STATE (Hyundai Bowl), USC (National University Holiday Bowl), STANFORD (Foster Farms Bowl), UCLA (Valero Alamo Bowl) and WASHINGTON (TicketCity Cactus Bowl). Six Pac-12 teams appeared in the final Associated Press poll marking the second time in league history that six teams were in the final ranking. The teams in the top 25 were: Oregon (2), UCLA (10), Arizona State (12), Arizona (19), USC (20) and Utah (21).
Seven Pac-12 men’s basketball teams participated in the postseason with ARIZONA earning the Conference’s automatic bid after winning the tournament title at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the team’s first tournament title since 2002. The Wildcats also captured their 14th regular-season crown. OREGON, UCLA and UTAH were also selected to play in the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins and Utes reached the Sweet Sixteen while the Wildcats advanced to the Elite Eight for the second straight year. For the second-straight year, Pac-12 teams had eight NCAA Tournament wins. ARIZONA STATE and STANFORD participated in the NIT, and the Cardinal swept through the postseason and won its third NIT crown and second in four seasons. COLORADO was a participant in the CBI.
The Pac-12 women’s basketball season also produced historic moments, including OREGON STATE capturing the program’s first-ever Pac-12 regular-season title also claiming the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament at KeyArena in Seattle, Wash. It was the first time in the history of the event STANFORD was not the top seed. However, the Cardinal still went on to win its 11th Conference title as the No. 3 seed overall. Five league squads earned NCAA Tournament berths for the second-consecutive year, while two more participated in the WNIT with UCLA claiming its first-ever WNIT crown. ARIZONA STATE reached the Sweet Sixteen and CALIFORNIA and WASHINGTON also participated in the Big Dance. Four teams appeared in the final top-25 of the Associated Press poll: ASU (9), OSU (10), Stanford (14) and Cal (24). It marked the first time the Beavers were in the final poll since 1995-96. WASHINGTON STATE also made its second-straight postseason appearance, joining the Bruins in the WNIT.
Pac-12 volleyball also had an unprecedented season with a league-record 10 teams earning NCAA Tournament berths, a year after a then-league best nine teams advanced to the tournament in 2013. Five teams received a top-16 seed as STANFORD nabbed the top seed, while all 10 won their first-round match. The Pac-12 also set a new league record for most teams ranked in the final poll with nine teams appearing in the final AVCA top 25. The Cardinal won its 16th Pac-12 crown and advanced to the national semifinal for the first time since 2008 marking the 15th time in 17 years a Pac-12 team has advanced that far. With 15-straight years of at least six Conference teams earning NCAA bids, the Pac-12 has dominated the sport, winning a record 14 NCAA volleyball titles since 1982, including 12 in the last 24 years.
In baseball, UCLA won its third regular-season title in five years and were the No. 1 overall seed at the 64-team NCAA Tournament. Five additional teams earned bids: OREGON STATE, USC, CALIFORNIA, ARIZONA STATE and OREGON. The Trojans, Bruins and Bears each reached the NCAA Regional finals. UCLA was ranked No. 7 by Baseball America in its final poll, one of three Pac-12 teams in the publication’s final top-25, joining No. 20 USC and No. 22 California. The Pac-12 has, by far, won the most baseball national titles of any conference in the country, claiming 28 titles dating back to 1947, including two of the last four when the league had back-to-back champions in 2012 (Arizona) and 2013 (UCLA).
Another sport in which the Pac-12 Conference has dominated is softball where league teams have claimed 23 NCAA titles in the 34-year history of the championship. Pac-12 teams captured an unprecedented nine in a row from 1988-1997, then most recently claimed six-straight from 2006-11. Seven teams participated in the tournament in 2015, marking the 19th-straight season the Pac-21 has had five or more teams advance to the postseason, and has had at least three berths every year since the league began sponsoring the sport in 1987. Pac-12 Champion OREGON and UCLA advanced to the NCAA Women’s College World Series, while ARIZONA advanced as far as the Super Regional.