Pac-12 Whiparound 8

The regular season is over, it is time for the Conference Tourney!


Conference
Overall
KenPom
Prev KenPom
RPI
Sagarin
Best Win (KPR)
Worst Loss (KPR)
Arizona
16-2
28-3
2
3
7
5
Gonzaga (6)
Oregon State (112)
Oregon
13-5
23-8
49
49
29
49
Utah (8)
Washington State (170)
Utah
13-5
23-7
8
7
17
9
Wichita State (13)
Washington (123)
UCLA
11-7
19-12
51
52
49
57
Utah (8) California (124)
Arizona State
9-9
17-14
68
63
85
66
Arizona (2)
Lehigh (202)
Stanford
9-9
18-12
44
38
58
44
Texas (20)
Washington State (170)
Oregon State
8-10
17-13
112
109
118
103
Arizona (2) Quinnipiac (179)
California
7-11
17-14
124
123
103
105
UCLA (51)
Cal-State Bakersfield (270)
Colorado
7-11
14-16
99
113
117
86
Stanford (44)
Washington State (170)
Washington State
7-11
13-17
170
182
146
151
Stanford (44) Idaho (233)
Washington
5-13
16-14
123
121
108
106
Oklahoma (10)
Washington State (170)
USC
3-15
11-19
154
151
202
148
Boston College (110)
Portland State (251)

    And so the dust has settled on a less than stellar year of Pac-12 Men's Basketball, as all eyes on the Conference of Champions shift towards Sin City, it's time to take a look back and ahead at who's playing for seeding, who's countin' on a miracle, and how everything finished this past weekend.

1.  The Chairmen of the Board:  Nobody owned Vegas like Frank owned Vegas, and expect the Wildcats and their fans to be strutting and dancing around as if they owned the place.  Arizona spent the final week of conference play making the Bay Area schools look like junior varsity teams forced to scrimmage against the varsity.  Most experts still have the Kitties clawing for a one seed, and with a chance to stay West at stake, it's likely Sean Miller will have his team focused on business at the MGM Grand.  Hard to say just what they'll have to do to secure a 1 seed, but in all likelihood they'd have to win the whole thing because the only real resume-booster in the bracket is Utah.  Should the Utes get upset, it may not matter what Arizona does.  Of course, I am of the opinion that as a two seed, the Wildcats could just as easily do damage and get to the Final Four so long as they are the only Wildcats in their bracket.

2.  Get these boys the RainMan Suite:  Oregon quietly attended to its business through the first half of conference play, and then turned it on at the end, notching a marquis win over Utah, sweeping the Bay Area schools on the road, and then finishing off the Beavers to end the season and earn the two-seed in the tournament.  Dana Altman snatched a Coach of the Year Award that all but had Wayne Tinkle's name engraved on it, and Joey Buckets rose up and claimed the Player of the Year trophy.  The Ducks are quick and high-scoring but lack size and Young has logged major minutes this season.  They actually project as a bigger NCAA Tournament threat with their fun and gun style vs. having to play three times in three days in Vegas.  A likely Friday date with Utah would offer the chance to get the Ducks into a much healthier seed come Selection Sunday.

3. Perhaps a field trip to the Hoover Dam?  The boys from Utah have suffered some slippage, losing to Oregon, Arizona, and then shockingly to the exhumed corpse of Washington on Saturday.  As we have talked about all season, the Utes three-point game did them dirty on both ends of the floor against Washington.  Nobody shoots it better and nobody relies more heavily on the three pointer than Utah, and on Saturday they were only 5-19 from the Land of Plenty.  Conversely, Washington went 8-14 against the Pac-12's best three point defense.  Utah gave up 30 points in the final ten minutes of the game, ending their season in a totally unrecognizable fashion.  They still sport a strong resume, but as losers in three of their last five, expect the Utes to show up motivated, as late losses can hurt a team's seeding in the Big Dance.  Come to think of it, all of the top four teams have more of a reason to perform than in seasons past, and that gets us to....

4.
Calling Danny Ocean...Steve Alford's Bru Man Group cannot be satisfied to win one Pac-12 Tournament game, but rather probably needs to win at least two and probably three.  The good news is that by getting to the fourth seed, the Bruins escaped Wednesday responsibilities and so are probably looking at a Friday date with Arizona.  Solving the Wildcat defense is not quite as difficult as cracking Terry Benedict's vaults, but it's still a tall order.  UCLA is on the dreaded "Next Four Out" list according to Joe Lunardi so they need to do something this week that eclipses the efforts of a number of teams, including Miami, Texas A&M, and Illinois.  I single them out among the eight teams the Bruins are fighting because as Power Conference members they too will be playing teams with high profiles.  UCLA's opening round win probably isn't going to do much for them, so beating Arizona is going to be necessary if the Bruins are to make it to Big March.

5.  Arizona State vs. USC, Wednesday, 2:30 PM, Pac-12 Networks: 
Herb Sendek's Sun Devils snuck past Stanford by sweeping the Bay Area schools and snatching the five seed.  With that comes the chance to play USC, who in losing four of its last six, actually improved after enduring a nine-game losing streak in conference play.  The winner of this game gets UCLA, and with the Bruins falling to ASU earlier in the year, most from Westwood are hoping for a USC upset of the Sun Devils.  Don't count on it.  ASU isn't a great team, and is one of many who would have to win this party to get into the NCAA Tournament, but USC is just too bad at too many things.  They are abysmal offensively and are the worst rebounding team in the conference.  Expect the Sun Devils to advance, assuming Gerry Blakes doesn't shoot them into oblivion.

6. Stanford vs. Washington, Wednesday, 8:30 PM, Pac-12 Networks: 
Call Johnny Dawkins "The Cooler."  Stanford dropped seven of its final ten games,  absolutely playing itself out of NCAA Tournament consideration for the seventh time in eight seasons under Coach Dawkins.  They needed two wins in Vegas to get in last March, and will probably require at least three to even sniff an invite.  Injuries, fatigue, and a lack of scoring depth have doomed the Cardinal this year, and an inglorious Vegas exit is still  in play if Stanford doesn't find a way to rejuvenate the slumping Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown.  Good on Washington for upsetting Utah long after the Dawgs had anything of meaning for which to play.  The way these teams are trending, this stands as the most likely upset special of the Tournament's opening day.

7. Oregon State vs. Colorado, Wednesday, 6:00 PM, Pac-12 Networks: 
The eyesore game of Wednesday, featuring two teams who strug, strug, STRUGGLE to score points.  Colorado is the 9th-rated offense in the conference and Oregon State is dead last.  The Beavers have used a grinding style and sound defense to maximize the most of a limited roster.  Colorado's bad injury luck has derailed what many thought would be another solid season in Boulder. The winner of this game gets Oregon, and any fans who sit through this one in its entirety should get a refund.

8. Cal vs. Washington State, 12:00 PM, Pac-12 Networks: 
What these teams lack in quality, they should more than make up in quantity.  Washington State can score reasonably well, and their Pac-12 worst defense should be enough to boost a struggling Cal offense and the Bears' 10th-rated defense should produce a game that is entertaining, if utterly insignificant seeing as how the winner gets Arizona, who would have to get stuck in an MGM Grand Elevator and miss the game in order for there to be any suspense on Thursday.

    As Conference Tournament play opens, the Pac-12 sits as the sixth-best conference in the country according to Jeff Sagarin.  That they have three sure-fire NCAA Tournament teams is almost certain.  There is a scenario in which they can get four or five teams in.  If UCLA makes the championship and loses to a team other than Oregon or Utah, there may very well be a fifth team from the conference.  It's staggeringly unlikely, but it could happen.  Four teams in would be a pretty good accomplishment considering the lack of quality top to bottom in the Pac-12 this year.  Bottom line is that while the results may not have too many national implications, the tournament itself should be a great watch, because even the teams with assured berths have reasons to perform. 

Time to roll the dice, Fellas.



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