The Pac 12 conference schedule is right around the corner and there is a lot of unknown about the league so far. A few big wins have taken place, as well as some puzzling losses. So, if you just recently got out of a coma (or live on the east coast) and needed to know 5 things about the league, these 5 will help you to understand the league before conference play begins.
5. Five teams could finish anywhere from 2nd to 6th in the league standings.
California, Oregon, Colorado, Stanford, and UCLA all have a legitimate chance to finish anywhere from 2nd to 6th in the league standings. Does that mean that these teams are really good teams? No, it actually means that they are above average teams that could beat each other on any given night. This will be a very competitive season in the Pac, and these teams will be battling for NCAA tournament bids. That leads to number 4 on the list….
4. Six teams will make the NCAA tournament from the Pac 12 conference.
This did not even seem possible due to the quick departure of UCLA from the preseason top 25 rankings, but with Arizona’s recent victory over Florida the Pac 12 has a legitimate top 10 team. That gives the conference a power team, and some validity that the conference is strong. All 5 teams listed above, along with Arizona will make the NCAA tournament. Stanford would look like the team that you could shake your head about, but the Cardinal have 4 losses in which they were very competitive. Three of the Stanford losses were to ranked teams, and all of those teams will end the year in the top 20 RPI rankings. The Cradinal are ready for conference play.
3. The Conference Player of the year will go to….
The conference player of the year looks to be a 3 horse race this season, but one dark horse is looking to upset the leading candidates. Allen Crabbe, Shabazz Muhammad, and Solomon Hill are the leading candidates for the award, but they should watch out for Dwight Powell of Stanford. Crabbe is the scorer on the list, Muhammad is the phenom, and Hill is the best all around player on the best team. My money should say Hill will get it, but he has so many good teammates that allow him to have “off” nights. Powell will take the Player of the year award, his best games have come against elite opponents and his overall stat line at the end of the year will look better than Hills.
2. Coach Sean Miller will be in the top 3 for National Coach of the year.
Coach Sean Miller not only will win the conference coach of the year award, but he also will be one of the top 3 names mentioned for National coach of the year. Tubby Smith (Minnesota) and Tim Beckman(Illinois) will be the other names mentioned along with Coach Miller. I don’t see Miller winning the award but he will finally get the much deserved attention that is due.
1. Three teams will reach the Sweet 16 from the Pac 12 conference
I like Arizona, Stanford, and UCLA to make the sweet 16 of the NCAA tourney. It is impossible to predict who these teams will play, or where they will play. A lot of it will come down to luck, but that being said, these 3 teams have the rosters to make sweet 16 runs. Arizona could be a Final Four team, but both Stanford and UCLA have a lot of talent. If the cards fall right for these teams they could be nightmare matchups for teams across the country.