CBB Review highlights the ins and outs of every conference tournament leading up to Selection Sunday. Up next: The Pac 12 Tournament.
Make sure to check out our other previews and awards at March on CBB Review
The conference of champions took another down year, where some even made the argument they were the third-best West Coast Conference behind the WCC and Mountain West. With that being said, they did enjoy a few success stories, with Arizona surprising everyone and finishing as a top 2 team in the country, and UCLA and USC enjoying good seasons as well. With March upon us, anything can happen, and who knows, Oregon State might win the Pac 12 tournament and go for back-to-back Elite 8 runs.
Players to watch
- Bennedict Mathurin– Arizona
- Kerr Kriisa– Arizona
- Johnny Juzang– UCLA
- Jaime Jacquez Jr.– UCLA
- Isaiah Mobley– USC
- Drew Peterson– USC
- Jabari Walker– Colorado
- Harrison Ingram– Stanford
There are so many Arizona players to watch, but Mathurin is a must-watch. The probable All-American and lottery pick in the draft has been a star all season, scoring over 17 points, while adding 5 rebounds to his statline. He is a leader and can make the big shots. As for a guy to watch for sheer enjoyment, Kriisa is your guy. When he gets hot from deep, it’s hard to beat them, and he plays with an attitude that not only fires up himself but his teammates and fans as well. He is the ultimate X factor.
Next, we got the two Bruins. Juzang caught the attention of the country last year during UCLA’s magical March Madness run, where he was the clear leader and made big-time shots, especially in that Gonzaga game. He hasn’t slowed down this year, leading the team in scoring on decent shooting splits. Jacquez on the other hand is the unsung hero. He steps up in every moment, and while Juzang was out this year, he became the on-court leader and led them to big-time wins.
Mobley is arguably the best big man in the Pac 12, and one of the top in the country. He is extremely difficult to guard in the post and can take over games. Peterson can do a little of everything on the court. Whether that is getting a bucket, rebound, finding the open teammate, or guarding someone, he’ll be there. He can be a huge difference-maker in the Pac 12 tournament as well as the NCAA.
Finally, we move on to two talented freshmen in Walker and Ingram. Walker was the clear top guy on a team that finished 4th in conference play. He has continued to develop game after game, and Buffalo fans are hoping he hits his peak now when they need it the most. Ingram, a five-star, hasn’t been too consistent, but he has shown glimpses of greatness that can be showcased in the Pac 12 tournament.
Team to Watch: Oregon
After some ugly losses at the end of the season, Oregon has gone from safely in the bracket to on the bubble to out of the tournament. This team knows it’s winning the Pac 12 tournament or go home, so they will really be putting all their effort into these next few days. They have already beaten UCLA twice and USC once, so they are more than capable of making that run.
Pac 12 Tournament Preview
First Round – Wednesday, March 9th
8. Arizona State vs 9. Stanford- 3 p.m., PAC12N
These two split the season series, but Arizona State comes into the tournament on a four-game winning streak while Stanford enters on a five-game losing streak. Sun Devils win this one in what might be Stanford coach Jerod Haase’s last game with the team.
5. Oregon vs 12. Oregon State – 5:30 p.m., PAC12N
In-state rivalry conference tournament games are awesome unless one of those teams is Oregon State. The Beavers went 3-27 this season, and there’s no way they win a 4th.
7. Washington State vs 10. California – 9 p.m., PAC12N
Washington State swept the season series and will win this one too.
6. Washington vs 11. Utah – 11:30 p.m., PAC12N
Washington had a surprisingly good season all things considered, but it isn’t March Madness without an upset, so give me Utah in this one.
Quarterfinals – Thursday, March 10th
1. Arizona vs 8. Arizona State – 3 p.m., PAC12N
While I would love to pick the major upset here, Arizona is just too good. The Wildcats beat their in-state rival.
4. Colorado vs 5. Oregon – 5:30 p.m., PAC12N
For both teams, this is all or nothing. I think Oregon just has more talent, and Dana Altman knows how to win the games that matter.
2. UCLA vs 7. Washington State – 9 p.m., PAC12N
I think Washington State is going to keep this close and even lead late, but UCLA will take this one.
3. USC vs 11. Utah – 11:30 p.m., FS1
Woohoo, a game not on Pac12 network! But, it’s at midnight so no one will be watching. Utah’s season ends here, with Mobley dominating the whole game.
Semifinals – Friday, March 11th
1. Arizona vs 5. Oregon- 9 p.m., PAc12N
If Oregon was playing USC or UCLA, I would have picked them to win, but Arizona is just much better than them.
2. UCLA vs 3. USC- 11:30 p.m., FS1
Yet another in-state rivalry here, where the two teams split the season series. It will come down to how Juzang plays, but the Bruins will have just enough to take down the Trojans.
Championship – Saturday, March 12th
1. Arizona vs 2. UCLA- 9 p.m., FOX
We’ve got ourselves a good ole fashioned one vs two matchup in the final. UCLA did hand Arizona one of their three losses this year, winning by 16 at home, but on a neutral court, you can’t go against Benn Mathurin and the Wildcats. Arizona secures a one seed in the tournament here and yet another championship to the season.