The regular season is over, and the top four seeds for the Pacific-12 Conference Men’s Championship Basketball Tournament are the Washington Huskies, the Arizona State Sun Devils, the Utah Utes, and the Oregon State Beavers. The other eight teams will play in the opening round on Wednesday, while these four teams get a day off and open on Thursday with the quarterfinals.
The Conference of (real NCAA) Champions had a tough race for those last two byes, as the Utes (11-7) and the Beavers (10-8) edged out the Colorado Buffaloes (also 10-8) and the Oregon Ducks (10-8) for the extra rest. UCLA finished seventh (9-9), just ahead of Arizona (8-10), USC (8-10), and Stanford (8-10). Washington State (4-16) and California (3-15) are the lowest seeds in the tournament.
The Golden Bears dropped the Cardinal two spots with a win on the road last week to give themselves a nice three-game win streak to close out the regular-season schedule. You can check out all the tournament-seeding tiebreak information here.
Weekly Pac-12 Rankings
Despite a handful of teams sweeping their final-week games, there was little movement this week, as only Utah made a move (up). In truth, the Utes’ overall numbers put them closer to 8th than 10th, but with a strong showing in the tourney, perhaps Utah will move up even more.
Here are the updated rankings, with last week’s position noted after the current record.
1. Washington Huskies (24-7, 1): The last four games have shown the Huskies to be a bit wobbly, with two losses and two wins by a combined six points. Washington probably is a lock to make the NCAAs, unless it loses on Thursday. That could be bad for the Huskies, so bet your bottom dollar that this team is refocusing right now on the big prize.
2. Oregon Ducks (19-12, 2): Closing with four straight wins is what the Ducks needed to perhaps give their NCAA chances a serious boost. Oregon ruined Washington’s perfect home record with a 55-47 win on Saturday for the team’s best victory on paper since Bol Bol went down with injury in mid-December.
3. Arizona State Sun Devils (21-9, 3): A Territorial Cup sweep is a nice feather in the cap for the Sun Devils this year, as the Wildcats flounder on and off the court. Sadly, ASU’s win over Kansas earlier in the season does not look as good now as it did then. The Sun Devils are probably in the NCAAs, but they don’t want to lose on Thursday, either.
4. Colorado Buffaloes (19-11, 4): Three consecutive victories to end the regular season gives the Buffaloes some momentum heading into the conference tournament, but Colorado better beware of the Golden Bears on Wednesday. Nothing can ruin a season quicker than a first-round exit in the conference tournament.
5. Oregon State Beavers (18-12, 5): The Beavers went 3-0 this year against Colorado and Oregon, which is why OSU got the bye on Wednesday. Perhaps for the final time this season, we will note the Beavers’ 9-9 record in games decided by single digits. In conference games alone, Oregon State dropped five games by a combined 14 points.
6. Arizona Wildcats (17-14, 6): For a team with a 4-10 record in the two months, the Wildcats went out with a whimper at home against the Sun Devils on Saturday. Head Coach Sean Miller probably is gone as soon as the team loses in Las Vegas, probably on Thursday. It will be interesting to see where this program is headed in 2019-2020.
7. USC Trojans (15-16, 7): Speaking of coaches on the hot seat, the Trojans lost their last four games in a row to end the season and put Andy Enfield on notice. Sure, the final three contests were on the road, but come on. USC did beat both Arizona State and Oregon this year, so the talent is there. Something else is missing, however.
8. UCLA Bruins (16-15, 8): Losing by 25 points on the road to Colorado shows how far this program has fallen. With its history and resources, there is no way the Bruins should be flailing around .500 right now. Can UCLA beat Stanford to ensure itself of a winning season on Wednesday? We have no idea.
9. Utah Utes (17-13, 10): Despite finishing third in conference play, the Utes’ non-conference schedule and results have buried them down here in our rankings. You cannot lose to Hawai’i and expect to be respected. Remember, four of the six NC wins came against Northern Arizona, Florida A&M, Maine, and Mississippi Valley State.
10. Stanford Cardinal (15-15, 9): There was some serious egg on the court at Maples Pavilion on Thursday when the Cardinal dropped the home finale on Senior Night to the Golden Bears. Ouch! That makes us question the entire mental makeup and team chemistry of this Stanford team heading into the Pac-12 tournament.
11. Washington State Cougars (11-20, 11): After winning three of four in mid-February, the Cougars ended up losing their final five games of the regular season. WSU got swept by Oregon and now gets the Ducks on Wednesday in Las Vegas. There is no way the Cougars pull that upset off, says we.
12. California Golden Bears (8-22, 12): They lost to Colorado by nine points on January 24 in Berkeley, and clearly both teams are playing a lot better than they were then. Can the Golden Bears pull off a huge victory in the Pac-12 Tournament? The odds say no, but Cal has nothing to lose on Wednesday. Literally, nothing.
What to Watch For Next
The Pac-12 Tournament will determine how many teams the conference sends to the NCAAs. Oregon seems to have been written off, but if the Ducks can make a strong run to the tournament finals, maybe that can be enough to sway the selection committee. Oregon would have to beat WSU and Utah to get to the semis, where ASU would probably await. We think the Ducks will do it.
Fearless Prediction(s) of the Week
The Huskies will win the tournament final over the Ducks, with the Beavers and the Sun Devils making the semis. First-round winners will be USC over Arizona, Cal over Colorado, and UCLA over Stanford. Quarterfinals victors are the Huskies over the Trojans, the Beavers over the Bears, the Sun Devils over the Bruins, and the Ducks over the Utes.
Your tournament MVP will be Jaylen Nowell of Washington, as he joins a select list of awesome players to claim this prize.
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