Pac 12 Tournament Preview

Who is playing who? Who can win? Who will win? We break it down

First Round
8. Cal vs 9. Washington State
5. Arizona State vs 12. USC
7. Oregon State vs 10. Colorado
6. Stanford vs 11. Washington

Second Round
1. Arizona vs Winner of Wazzu/Cal
4. UCLA vs Winner of Arizona State/USC
2. Oregon vs Winner of Colorado/Oregon State
3. Utah vs Winner of Washington/Stanford

Semifinals
Arizona-Wazzu/Cal Winner vs UCLA-Arizona State/USC Winner
Oregon-Colorado/Oregon State Winner vs Utah-Washington/Stanford Winner

Championship
Two remaining teams

The Favorites- Arizona, Utah
Arizona is the best team in the conference and is the heavy favorite to win the title down at their home away from home in Las Vegas where their fans show up in droves to make it a comfortable atmosphere for the Wildcats. They're still aiming for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and a Pac 12 tournament title may help wrap that up. Outside of UCLA, they may have the most to play for. Utah has hit the skids at the end of the year, losing 3 of their final 5 games, but two of those loses were to Arizona and on the road to Oregon. The Washington disaster brings up some red flags and you have to wonder if the Utes are tired, were unfocused, or if this is a sign of things to come in tournament play, but it's a big concern. Still, the Utes are the second best team in the conference, despite the head to head loss to Oregon. Utah is one of the few teams in the conference with the depth to win 3 games in 3 days, and that should help them make a push towards the final.

The Other Realistic Contenders- Oregon, UCLA
The Ducks and Bruins are the only two teams that could possibly surprise the big 2 in Arizona and Utah and grab the title. Oregon is peaking at the right time, having won 5 straight and 9 of 10, while UCLA is 8-3 in their last 11, although outside of homes wins against Utah and Oregon, they've mostly beat up on the dregs of the conference. Joseph Young can take over a game for the men in green, while Norman Powell and Bryce Alford have the ability to do the same for the Bruins with the 3 ball. Getting hot at the right time is important and both of these teams are trending up. Oregon is already a lock for the tournament, while UCLA sits on the bubble. One win probably gets UCLA in, while two wins and a finals berth should make them a lock.

The Breakdown
There are really only four teams with a shot at winning this thing, and it's the four teams at the top, all of whom have byes to open up the tournament. Winning 3 games in 3 days is tough. Winning 4 in 4 days is near impossible. Arizona is fighting for a #1 seed, Utah and Oregon are looking to improve their seed, while UCLA is trying to lock up their spot. If recent history tells us anything, upsets will happen, but one of the top teams will bring home the trophy. No Cinderellas here.

The Pick- Arizona
The Wildcats are the class of the conference and should be able to breeze into the final. This is a legit national championship caliber squad with their balance, defense, and senior point guard leader. I'll take the Utes to meet them on Saturday night, but Arizona finds a way to get win number 3 over Utah and grab the crown.

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