The Lemon Law Award (most defective team): Best team to not make the NCAA tournament
I currently have 5 teams making the NCAA tournament from the PAC 12. The Group sitting at 9-9 in the conference will not make it this year, but 2 of the teams were a disappointment and 2 should be happy with their seasons. The Washington Huskies had a disappointing year, but that is relative only to past seasons. This year’s team was a little lacking in talent thanks to NBA departures, for this reason they are not the most disappointing. The Stanford Cardinal are the best team to not make the NCAA tournament from the Pac 12 this season. This is a team that won the NIT tournament last season, and looked to build on that with an NCAA tournament appearance. The Cardinal had plenty of times to show that they belonged in the field, but could only keep games close against elite teams all season long.
The Cubbie (you always have next season): Which team will succeed in next year’s NCAA tournament
I know that recruiting classes are not complete, and that early departures will occur from some teams. Going in to next year based on who “should” be back, 2 teams stand out for having success in next years NCAA tourney. The Arizona Wildcats have to fill the shoes of 3 Seniors, which is a lot to overcome. That being said, the Wildcats have reloaded with another talented class (and transfer), and will have 4 extremely talented sophomores to take them far in March. The Colorado Buffaloes will be the team to watch out for next season. The Buff’s will be returning all 5 starters, and will hopefully have an NCAA tournament under their belts. If this team can learn to play well on the road they will be a tough out in March 2014.
The Lute (enough said): Best Coach in the NCAA tournament
History would say Ben Howland of UCLA is the best coach in the tournament from the PAC 12, but I think his best days of coaching are behind him. Dana Altman took the honors for the Pac this year, but he hasn’t proved himself worthy yet. Sean Miller would be a logical choice then, but the Wildcats have too many issues defensively. My choice is going to be Mike Montgomery from Cal. He has been around for years, and has had really high seeds at Stanford in the past NCAA tournaments. I think this is one of his best coaching jobs overall. He never let this team believe that they couldn’t win and has them playing their best ball at the end of the season.
The Dominator (Not Dale Earnhardt): Best Pac 12 Player in the NCAA tournament
This one is a tough one!! With all due respect to Solomon Hill, Mark Lyons, Andre Roberson, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Shabazz Muhammad, the best player in the Pac 12 currently is Allen Crabbe. Crabbe can score from anywhere on the floor, he will be the reason that Cal makes it far, or goes out the first week in the tourney. He is one of a few players in the country that can completely take over a game for his team (although Muhammad is another).
The Pogo Stick (or Rubber Ball Award): Team most likely to get bounced early in the NCAA tournament
The Oregon Ducks are not playing good basketball right now so they would be the logical team to choose for this one. I however, do not like the Colorado Buffaloes to make it very far in March. The Buffaloes do not play well on the road, and sometimes the Buffs’ offense is downright terrible. This makes them the team most likely to lose early in the tourney.
The Borat (Great Success Award): Most likely to succeed in the NCAA tournament
The UCLA Bruins and the Arizona Wildcats were picked to be the 2 best teams in the PAC 12 preseason, at the end of the season nothing has changed. The Bruins have the best offense in the Pac 12 and a superstar in Shabazz Muhammad, but the team does not rebound well enough to dominate the tournament. For the rebounding reason alone I have to choose the Arizona Wildcats as the team most likely to succeed in March. The big front line, coupled with Senior leadership, and clutch play at the tail end of games makes the Cats a tough out for any team.