Only another week or so until Selection Sunday and all the bracket sweepstakes. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”. But before we get to the top 64, we have to settle the conference tournaments and punch the automatic bids.
The 2019 Pac-12 Conference tournament kicks off tomorrow (Wednesday the 13th) in Las Vegas, at T- Mobile Arena. This is one of the more challenging conferences to judge because the rankings don’t exactly mean much. The level of competition throughout the conference is extremely fluid. For instance, Washington has only lost 3 games in the conference. One of which was to California, who is the 12th (and last) seed in the Pac-12. There’s really no telling what’s going to happen.
The Pac 12 Conference is not typically the most exciting to watch talent wise, Although they’ve produced some great talents such as James Harden (Arizona State) and Russel Westbrook (UCLA), and actually has the 2nd highest number of alumni on active NBA rosters with 70 (Full and two-way contracts). But the fluidity of competition makes it extremely exciting to watch, as an impartial basketball fan.
Below is the Pac 12 Conference tournament bracket.
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) March 10, 2019
First Round Match Ups
This will be the rematch Arizona needs to try and take back what dignity USC stripped from them during round uno. USC absolutely whooped the Wildcats back in late January, cruising to an 80-57 victory at home. The Trojans held Arizona to 27.2% from the field while shooting 47.7, held them to 5-25 from three while shooting 10-20, and dominating the boards (USC had 12 more rebounds than Arizona). If Arizona wants a chance at #1, the key areas of focus are simple. Rebound, guard the three and hit your shots.
Game 1’s prediction seems pretty simple, I’m going to go with USC to take on top-seeded Washington.
Last seed California has struggled this season, only winning 3 conference games, albeit they were the last three of the season, so perhaps Cali is on a roll? Something to keep your eye on.
Colorado won the first match by 9, despite a second-half push from California.
Key focus points will be rebounds and turnovers. California racked up the steals and forced turnovers the last time, so if they can do it again paired with stepping up on the glass, it could be interesting.
As much as I would love to see California up in the championship, I see a quick exit to the struggling Bruins.
Expect a wild game with this one. The games are split pretty even with one win apiece, UCLA took game 1 by 22 and Stanford snatched round 2 by 24.
Even the stats are similar, respectively. In UCLA’s win, they won the rebound battle by 12, pairing with 5 more assists than Stanford. In Stanford’s win, they rebounded the same difference in their favor this time (12). They also racked up the assists, with a 23-7 ratio. Even people who don’t watch basketball could give a convincing pregame speech and give the points of emphasis. Rebounds and assists. Numbers. Don’t. Lie.
I’m torn on who I see going through. I see this as a grudge match where anything can happen. But I’m rolling with UCLA on the fact alone that they have won four of their last six, they are on some kind of hot streak.
Game 1 by 20, and game 2 by 11. An average of 15.5. Washington State giving up 17 turnovers in EACH game, 34 total. Oregon drawing 10+ fouls in each contest. This seems pretty cut and dry.
With those stats added to the fact that Washington State’s overall record is 11-19, I’m going to have to go with the Ducks. Quack Quack.
Second Round Matchups
Washington is rolling the past month, winning 8 of the last 11. The only teams the Huskies struggle against happen to be the lower seeded ones losing to #12 Cal, and only beating #11 Wash State by 2. They boast one of the nation’s best backcourts and could be the lone team to already have a spot in the NCAA Tournament locked up.
If USC is the one that happens to go on to the second round, they have to come in hungry. But if Arizona hangs on, they are one of Washington’s losses this year, so if they happen to come through they know how to beat them already.
Either way, I’m sticking with Washington. They’ve been decent in past years and there are no signs of that stopping.
Rosters for this one (assuming Colorado pulls through) are pretty different. The last go-round, Colorado started small, playing 4 guards and one forward, with decent minutes from the bench. Oregon State on the other side started more traditional with 3 guards and 2 forwards, relying on starters to tough it out, minus Kylor Kelley who only played 9 minutes. The game was decided by 2, in favor of the Beavers.
Another tough one, but I’m picking Colorado. I expect them to come off the win against Cal Little Caesars (Hot and Ready).
Assuming UCLA is victorious, I expect their journey to end right here. Arizona State has typically been pretty good in the Pac 12 tourney and I expect them to follow up just like most years.
The first matchup was physical and full of fouls, both personal and technical. I expect this one to turn out the same way due to the tension still bubbling from January. It’ll be tough and Arizona State will get beat up in the process but I see them walking away with the dub.
UPSET ALERT. Even knowing Oregon’s season has underwhelming, I can see them making their way up the ranks during this postseason.
The Ducks waddled away with the win back on January 31st by 6, and while I expect this to be a closer fight, I still anticipate the same result.
The difference maker last game had to be freshman Will Richardson with 19 pts and 5 rebs. This game will most likely be a different player stepping up (Richardson only averages 6/ game), most likely Payton Pritchard (averages 12 and a half) as long as he can hit his 3’s this time.
I’m calling a win by Oregon by 4 at the most.
Championship Round Predictions
Colorado has made a great run up to this point, but I only see two teams in the bracket that could defeat the Buffalo’s: Arizona State and unfortunately, Washington.
Washington is killing it lately as I said before, Coming off a hot month and a win the game before (hopefully). The only way I see Colorado winning is if the theory about how you can’t beat a team 3 games in a row in the same season is true.
The first two rounds between these to schools are split. The first by 14 in favor of ASU, and the second by 28 for Oregon. I can see two things happening here;
Arizona State coming for blood and destroying Oregon, or the more likely event in which Oregon just dominates as they did in the last game (28 point win stated before). Rebounds, 3 pt%, FG%, Assist to turnover ratio, Steals, FT%. All of these were won by Oregon in the last game against ASU, and not by a small margin either.
Oregon wins this and I see them heading on to the championship and having a repeat from earlier this month (8 point win over Washington).
Oregon captures their first Pac-12 title since the ’15-’16 season and punches their ticket to the big dance.