Pac-12 Tourney Preview

Greg Hicks usually does a tongue-in-cheek preview of the NCAA Tournament, but since it's unlikely UCLA will be playing in it, here's his take on the Pac-12 tourney...

The 2012 Pac-12 basketball tournament begins Wednesday afternoon at Staples Center and it could be the last tournament that we see in Los Angeles for a while. There are reports that the tournament will be moving to Las Vegas for at least a few years, as attendance at the Staples Center has been declining in recent years. In addition to Las Vegas, the other cities bidding for the tournament included Los Angeles, Seattle and Salt Lake City. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott reportedly responded to the Salt Lake City bid with a text message that read "LOL!!! Good one!!!"

This year's tournament promises to be an exciting, action-packed four days filled with quality, high-level basketball played by the best players in the country. The Pac-12 is one of the premier conferences in the – ah, screw it. Sorry Larry, I can't write that with a straight face, even for a free suite at the Wynn next year. The truth is your league sucks this year. Your best player is named Jorge. Enough said. My advice for fans that want to have a good time at the conference tournament this year? Pre-party heavily. Those Staples cocktail prices are brutal.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the games. You got Washington State vs. Oregon State in the first game on Wednesday. I know you're not going to believe this, but that's not the worst game of the day. I told you – bad tournament. I'll go with the Beavers in a close game as Jared Cunningham will be the best player on the floor.

Next up is UCLA against USC. The Bruins will roll to an easy victory and then half the fans in attendance will head for the exits, leaving 47 people in the building for the Stanford/ASU game. Sun Devils in an upset as the smart kids can't solve the ASU zone. The worst game of the day, Colorado vs. Utah, will be seen by very few people. I don't want to say the Utes are bad, but Spencer Dinwiddie and four guys from the Aspen ski patrol could probably knock off Utah.

With the conference patsies knocked out of the field, the tournament gets underway in earnest on Thursday. Washington gets by Oregon State in a tight game and UCLA knocks off Arizona in surprisingly easy fashion. Cal is still smarting from its end of the season loss at Stanford and the Bears take it out on ASU. In the final game of the night, Oregon rolls over Colorado.

With the Bruins advancing to the semifinals, it's inevitable that a full-fledged crank/blue war will erupt Friday morning on the BRO message board over the hypothetical possibility of UCLA winning the tournament. Both sides make extremely thoughtful, well-reasoned arguments. The cranks argue that Coach Howland should be fired if he wins the tournament (and they mean the NCCA, not Pac-12, tournament). The blues counter with a five year extension for Coach Howland if he comes within 20 points of Washington in the semifinal game. Both sides celebrate, though, when the Bruins upset the Huskies Friday evening. In the other semifinal game, the Cal players are distracted by the new uniforms of the Oregon cheerleaders (thanks Uncle Phil!) and the Ducks advance to the final game.

Staples Center is rocking on Saturday afternoon, as nearly half of the lower bowl is filled with Bruin fans. The few Duck fans that were in town for the tournament leave prior to the game in order to catch a spring football practice. UCLA wins the game and advances to the NCAA tournament.

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