Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament Preview
Championship week is upon us, and that means the Big Dance is a week away.
All conferences bring one team to partake in the madness that March brings the fans: their conference tournament champion. The remaining teams must sit and hope their name gets called on Selection Sunday.
The Pac-12 has had its fair share of teams to be nationally ranked, ranging from the Oregon Ducks to the USC Trojans. As the bracket was revealed, the teams with first round byes are Oregon, USC and the Colorado Buffaloes.
The rest of the field seems to be fair game. Each team can make a case to beat their opponent, even the 3-17 California Golden Bears, who only won one conference game all season long.
Starting with the first seed, the Oregon Ducks have started to find their hot hand and have been dominating opponents. They have won 10 of their last 11 games all thanks to double digit efforts by the starters, more specifically guard Chris Duarte who leads the team in three statistical categories.
The Trojans have had their ups and downs all season, especially when losing back-to-back games against Colorado and Utah, but the team may have gotten a spark when Tahj Eaddy hit the game winner against rival UCLA. The player to look out for would be forward Evan Mobley, who leads the team with 16.1 points per game, 8.6 rebounds per game and 2.9 blocks per game.
Colorado looks to continue its winning streak as the Buffaloes currently sit as a five seed according to Joe Lunardi of ESPN Bracketology. Their success starts with guard McKinley Wright IV, who leads the team with 15.3 points per game. The Buffaloes rely on their bench to contribute to their tournament resume as 10 players have all entered around 20 games this season.
As for the play-in matchups, each team has an opportunity to end their opponents’ seasons with each shot they take. The conference has some rooted competition to cause some bracket-busting teams entering Selection Sunday.
Starting on Wednesday night, the Arizona State Sun Devils will face the Washington State Cougars. Both teams are riding a losing wave, but the last time they met resulted in a very close game until Arizona State’s Remy Martin put down a three to win the game.
Both teams have strong similarities, but the Sun Devil offense may be too powerful for the Cougars to stop.
The Utah Utes face a low tier opponent in Washington. The Utes can withhold an attack with their stellar defense, but the Huskies will put up a fight to the end, as they took the Arizona Wildcats to the buzzer.
The Stanford Cardinals and the California Golden Bears face off in the last game of Tuesday night’s action. Both teams ride a four-game losing streak, but the Cardinal defense will cause California a day of chaos and mayhem, which will put the Golden Bears on a plane right back to Berkeley.
The final play-in game consists of Oregon State and UCLA. These two teams are very similar in the numbers game, but UCLA has been riding a three-game skid as the Beavers won three out of their last four games. This will be a close battle to the end, and momentum heading into the tournament will play a big factor for both teams.
The only team not mentioned in the tournament field is the Arizona Wildcats. They are currently serving a self-imposed ban on any postseason play due to a scandal on the program that involved an assistant coach being arrested for corruption of the sport.
As the Pac-12 finds its champion, some at large bids will be at stake for some teams since they sit on the bubble. This tournament will show who has enough grit to make a name for themselves in Indianapolis.
Jonathan Draeger is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.