There is no clear favorite in the Pac-12 tournament. Any number of teams could win the four-day tournament being held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Last year Colorado won as the sixth seed, proving that you don’t have to be a top seed to win it all.
While any team could win, UCLA is a forerunner, after winning the regular season title and getting the No.1 seed in the tournament. The regular season came down to the wire with four teams being in contention for the top seed.
Along with the Bruins, Cal, Oregon and Arizona all had a chance to win the regular season, but the other three ended the regular season one game behind. Any of these teams have a chance to win along with No.5 seed Colorado or any other sleeper team.
Cal is coming into the Pac-12 tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country winning seven in a row before losing their final game to Stanford. Cal got the No. 2 seed and has the Pac-12 player of the year, Allen Crabbe, on their team. They also have the easiest path to the finals as well not having to play UCLA, Arizona or Colorado until the championship.
Oregon is limping into the tournament losing three of their last five to end the regular season, including a 23-point loss to the Buffs. Oregon had been ranked since Jan. 21 until the end of the season. Despite all of that, Oregon maintained the No. 3 seed and a bye in the first round. The Ducks looked really good for a big portion of the season but have faltered lately and could be a candidate to get upset early in the tournament.
Arizona has been the favorite all season long and was the favorite to win the Pac-12 in the pre-season as well. They were the only team in the Pac-12 to be ranked every week of the season. After a late run by UCLA which had them winning five of their last six, Arizona fell to the No. 4 seed and will have a tough time getting to the Pac-12 finals. Arizona will most likely have to go through both Colorado and UCLA.
The last of the serious contenders is Colorado who had a hot and cold conference schedule but showed flashes of brilliance. The Buffs also at times looked less than stellar though, so only time will tell which Buffs team shows up in Vegas. After losing to them in the regular season finale, the Buffs will take on Oregon State in the first round of the tournament and will be looking for revenge. Andre Roberson will be back for the tournament, which is good news as he was the Pac-12 defensive player of the year. Roberson missed the final two games of the regular season with a viral illness.
Arizona State or Washington could be dark horses in the tournament. Arizona State’s Jahii Carson was Pac-12 co-Freshman of the Year this year and could have a big tournament. They have the most to gain in the tournament as they are on the bubble to get in the NCAA tournament. If the Sun Devils can have a good showing in the Pac-12 tournament they could punch their ticket to March Madness.
Washington is the No.6 seed and has the easiest road to travel of all teams that didn’t get a bye. The Huskies only have to beat Washington State and Oregon to advance to the semi-finals of the tournament. After going 17-14 this year and winning four of their last six, Washington could make some noise in the tournament. After all a six seed did win last year. As we have seen this year every game is up for grabs in the Pac-12. No team is safe and it will be one of the hardest conference tournaments to predict this year. Anything can happen and any team could win. As of now most experts have five teams from the Pac-12 going to the NCAA tournament. We could see more than that if one of the lower seeded teams has a good showing, just as Colorado did last year, which would make this tournament of the utmost importance.
Contact Sports Editor Scott Annis at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org.