The Pac-12 Tournament champion will be crowned Saturday night, but the big winner this week was the conference itself, as the event’s first year in Las Vegas has been a rousing success.
The Pac-12 (then the Pac-10) brought back its postseason tournament in 2002 and had held it at Staples Center in Los Angeles until this year. LA seemed like a logical choice of venue given its tourist allure and proximity to two of the conference’s schools, but attendance had suffered in recent years, in part due to an overall decline in Pac-12 quality of play. The vast Staples Center has never been accused of intimacy, and this weakness was exposed many games last year were played in front of quiet, sparse crowds.
A change was needed and the Pac-12 took its act 260 miles east to an already cluttered conference tournament field in the desert. Vegas also plays host to the West Coast, WAC and Mountain West tournaments, but the Pac-12 has been able to distinguish itself with superio...