Pac-12 Tournament Preview and Predictions


Jan 12, 2013; Colorado Springs, CO, USA; A detail view of the Pac 12 logo on the court before the start of the game between the UCLA Bruins and the Colorado Buffaloes. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY SportsThe Pac-12 Tournament kicks off this Wednesday. What games should you care about and what team has a chance to sneak into the NCAA Tournament with a Pac-12 Tournament Championship? Any big dissapointments? Let’s takea look.

1. Games This Wendesday (All Times Arizona Time)

12:06 p.m.: No. 8 Stanford vs. No. 9 Arizona State | TV: Pac-12 Network

You will most likely be working, but this could be the closest game of the day. The last time these teams met, ASU fell to the Cardinal, but only by three points. Expect Arizona State to get its redemption.

2:36 p.m.: No. 5 Colorado vs. No. 12 Oregon State | TV: Pac-12 Network

Everyone expects Arizona will face Colorado on Thursday, but don’t expect the Buffaloes to cruise that easily. Colorado is 1-1 against the Beavers and lost to them at home last weekend. On the road, Colorado got by OSU, but only by four points. Nevertheless, the Buffs are fighting for a better seed in the NCAA Tournament and need this win more than the Beavers do. Expect Colorado to learn from last weekend’s loss and take care of business.

6:06 p.m.: No. 7 USC vs. No. 10 Utah | TV: Pac-12 Nework

Finally, you are home from work and get to watch…..USC v. Utah? In any event, Utah got smoked by USC earlier in the season, but the Utes are coming on strong with a sweep over the Oregon schools last weekend. I’ve got Utah in this one.

8:36 p.m.: No. 6 Washington vs. No. 11 Washington State | TV: Pac-12 Network

Bold prediction: Washington will beat Washington State (not bold) and Oregon (bold) before falling to Cal.

2. What Pac-12 teams are most likely in March Madness regardless of what happens this week?
UCLA and Arizona are in, period. Colorado, Oregon and California should be in regardless, though a first round loss to Oregon State, Washington/Washington State and USC/Utah (respectively) certainly would not help their resumes.

3. Are there any teams that are not in the NCAA Tournament that could get in by winning this week?

Anything is possible in college basketball, but I wouldn’t put any money on it. Oregon State and Washington State are…well…Oregon State and Washington State. Washington, Stanford and USC are not consistent enough to pull together four wins in four days. Though Arizona State has shown they are capable of beating any Pac-12 team on any given day, they are not deep enough to beat four solid teams in a row. Plus, they are currently slumping at the worst time, having dropped their last four games. Expect a team that is already in the NCAA Tournament to win this Saturday.

4. Which team is vulnerable to the biggest dissapointment

The Pac-12 Champions: UCLA. The Bruins have proven they can play with anyone in the country, but have also shown they can lose to anyone in the country as well (aka Washington State). Coming off of a huge win to seal the outright Pac-12 Championship last Sunday and already a lock for the dance in March, this young team is more than capable of having a hiccup on Thursday against Arizona State/Stanford. They have shown vulnerability especially to the Sun Devils.

4. So, where does Arizona fit into all this mess?

Arizona will either lose to Colorado or make it to the Championship game on Saturday for redemption against Cal. Though Colorado is a team Arizona matches up worst against in the Pac-12, the Buffaloes will be on short rest with less depth. As the Wildcats proved in Honolulu, they are more than fine–and in fact very dangerous–when they get into daily game rythm. If Arizona gets past Thursday, their depth and talent has the potential to overcome the rest of the competition for the week.