Assuming the Pacific-12 Conference men’s basketball tournament isn’t canceled because of coronavirus, it should be a stellar event for the fourth-best league in the country, according to KenPom.
The Conference of (real NCAA) Champions could place seven teams in March Madness as well, if the dominoes fall correctly in the tournament at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas—and across the country in other competitive conference tourneys.
Here is the way we see it going down, round by round, starting with Wednesday’s games.
#8 Oregon State vs. #9 Utah: The Beavers have just one NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 25 years, and that came in 2016. With a 17-13 record this year, Oregon State will have to win the Pac-12 title to get into March Madness. That won’t happen, but bet on the Beavers to get their 18th win here nonetheless.
#5 Arizona vs. #12 Washington: Despite the Huskies’ bad record (5-13 in conference play), they’re actually a pretty good team … on paper. However, the Wildcats are better. Just don’t expect a blowout here. Arizona is going to have to work hard to get the victory here over the lowest-seeded squad in the Pac-12.
#7 Stanford vs. #10 California: Somehow, the Golden Bears finished with a 7-11 mark in conference play, which is stunning considering how bad they look on paper. Cal actually won six Pac-12 games at home this year, but this tournament is not in Berkeley. Look for the Cardinal to roll easily in this one.
#6 Colorado vs. #11 Washington State: This is perhaps the most unexciting matchup of the day in Vegas. The Buffaloes are gunning to improve their NCAA seeding, and this win is expected of them. A loss here doesn’t bury Colorado in the eyes of the Selection Committee, but the Buffs should win it nonetheless.
The next round is on Thursday, and here are the picks.
#1 Oregon vs. #8 Oregon State: The Civil War, Part III. The Ducks dropped a 10-point decision in Corvallis on February 8, only to beat the Beavers in Eugene by 15 points on February 27. On a neutral court in Vegas, it’s all Oregon here, as the Ducks are one of the best teams in the country.
#4 USC vs. #5 Arizona: The computers really like the Wildcats, even if the team didn’t always perform up to expectations this season (losing eight games by a combined 26 points). Arizona is really a team on the verge of exploding, but it has to learn to win the close ones, obviously. We say the time is now for the “upset” win.
#2 UCLA vs. #7 Stanford: On January 15, the Bruins lost at home to Stanford, dropping their record to 8-9 overall. Since then, UCLA has won 11 of 14 games. But the Cardinal are the better team, still. The Bruins need this game to solidify an NCAA bid, too. It’s going to be a close one, with Stanford pulling it out at the end.
#3 Arizona State vs. #6 Colorado: The Sun Devils had the conference regular-season title in their grasp before losing three straight games in the final two weeks of the season. ASU is not a shoo-in for the March Madness yet, either, while the Buffaloes have lost four straight games themselves. This league is tough! On paper, this is Colorado’s game to lose, but it’s been losing a lot lately. Sun Devils win.
In the semifinals on Friday, fans need to hang on to their hats. It’s going to get wild!
#1 Oregon vs. #5 Arizona: These are the two best teams in the league, really, and the Ducks won both matchups this season, by a single point in overtime each game. The Wildcats are too good to beat three times in one season, and we say this is when Arizona learns how good it can be. Wildcats advance, revenge like, barely.
#3 Arizona State vs. #7 Stanford: The Sun Devils won the only matchup between these two teams this season, on the road by five points. But the Cardinal are the better team, and ASU is so inconsistent. Stanford hasn’t looked good, though, in the last two months, going just 5-9 after a 15-2 start to the season. For that reason, we will stick with the Sun Devils, a slightly more reliable team in the end. We think.
For Saturday’s title tilt, it’s the Territorial Cup, Part III.
#3 Arizona State vs. #5 Arizona: The Wildcats beat the Sun Devils in Tucson on January 4 by 28 points. ASU beat Arizona by one point in Tempe on January 25. We know which team is better. This Wildcats are ready to reclaim their Pac-12 throne this weekend, even amid all the controversy of FBI investigation(s).
That’s all folks. We will check in next Monday to see how bad our predictions were and to assess the Pac-12 teams that got called to March Madness by the NCAA.