On Wednesday, March 8th, the Pac 12 tournament will take place. Here is a preview of every game, and the importance of these games for each team.
9 Arizona State vs 8 Colorado
The winner of this game will play Arizona, and barring a surprise, they will lose. This tournament doesn’t have much implications for Colorado, they are not projected to make the tournament and barring a championship run, they are not looking like a March Madness team. This Pac 12 tournament is more for pride for the buffaloes than anything.
For Arizona State, this game is crucial. A first round exit could potentially knock them out of the March Madness bracket. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi projects them as an 11 seed right now, and a loss would strongly hurt their chances of playing past March 15th. A win would most likely keep them at the 11 seed, and a win against Arizona in the next round could move them higher, so a successful tournament is crucial for the Sun Devils.
12 California vs 5 Stanford
This game really has no implications for either team. Cal are having a very disappointing season, and are focusing more on the future at the moment. A win against Stanford would be a shock for the whole tournament, but it is definitely possible.
Stanford struggled early on, but finished the season strong with an above .500 record in the Pac 12. Despite a 5 seed, the Stanford Cardinal are not projected to make the tournament, barring a deep run in the Pac 12, these will be their last games of the season for both teams.
10 Oregon State vs 7 Washington
This game should be an easy win for Washington. Oregon State had a disappointing season, finishing 4 games under .500 in the Pac 12, and barely finishing .500 overall. This forgetful season will hopefully ends after this game for the Beavers.
Washington should took this game a little more seriously. While it is a long shot for them to make the bracket, they do have two big wins against Kansas and Arizona. If they can make a finals run, then the March Madness committee will have to take a serious look at this team.
11 Washington State vs 6 Oregon
Expect another easy win in this game. Oregon clearly overpowers this Washington State team, and will most likely not be a nail biter. Washington State finished 10 games under .500 in the Pac 12 this season, a shocking record, and that doesn’t look to change after this game. It’s time for them to look forward to the football season.
Oregon did finish over .500 in Pac 12 play, however their good wins are probably not enough to push them into the tournament. The only way for them to make the bracket is to win the Pac 12 tournament, and they’ll have a long way to go if they want to do that.
First Round Byes: 1 Arizona, 2 USC, 3 Utah, 4 UCLA
Arizona has gone through a lot this season, with the Sean Miller scandal to Allonzo Trier being suspended for having a banned drug in his system. One thing that has been positive for them is that they keep on dominating teams. Led by future top 5 draft pick Deandre Ayton, the Wildcats steamrolled through the Pac 12, finishing 2 games ahead of the next best team. They are the heavy favorites to win the tournament, and can move up from a 4 seed in the bracket if they prove their dominance in this tournament.
USC started off the season strong, then went through a tough stretch. They bounced back in a big way, finishing 2nd in the Pac 12 and 21-10 overall this season. This tournament is crucial for the Trojans, as they are projected Last 4 in by Joe Lunardi. They need to have a strong tournament to be considered by the March Madness committee, and they have the pieces to do so. Any slip ups can cost them big time, so they need to make sure to play this tournament as well as they can.
Despite a high seed in the Pac 12, Utah isn’t projected to make March Madness this year. That does not take away from how strong this team is though. They proved this season they can take on any team in the Pac 12, and have a serious shot at making the finals. As long as this team can handle the pressure, they can surprise a few teams along the way and maybe even win the whole thing.
Like USC, these UCLA Bruins need to do well in this tournament. They are also projected as a Last 4 in team, and any losses will only hurt them. They need to make a deep run in this tournament, and they have the talent to do so, but the big question is whether that talent can transfer to wins, like it struggled to do all season.