Where: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
When: March 8-11.
Championship Game: March 11 — 11:00 p.m. ET, ESPN.
2016 Champion: Oregon.
Finally, we have a conference that has the proper amount of teams. The Pac 12 and their 12 teams head to the new “official” home of the UFC, T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas. With three titans of the game resting atop the PAC 12 standings, this tournament should be a whole lot of fun.
Those three titans—Oregon, Arizona, and UCLA—all have an outside shot at a number one seed. So, all three have something major to play for. Those three, along with Utah, were awarded first round byes. Meanwhile, the other eight teams will get into tournament play Wednesday afternoon. And then I hope you’re in for a fun nightcap come Saturday night.
So let’s take a look at the favorite, the contenders, and the pretenders for the PAC 12 Tournament.
The Favorite — UCLA
This was a tough one.
Look, there isn’t much between UCLA, Oregon, and Arizona. The reason I’m leaning towards UCLA is because I believe they have the best player in not only the PAC 12, but the entire country, in Lonzo Ball. This isn’t a draft preview, but if I have the number one pick, he’d be my choice. Aside from Ball, their eight-man rotation is also terrifying for opposing teams to face.
If they win the tournament, they’ll be a lock for a two-seed. But if they get bounced early on, they’ll likely end up as a three. For them to crack the one-seed line, though, they’ll have to get some help. And, that help will need to come in the form of losses from top teams in other conferences. (North Carolina and Kentucky, to name a couple.)
Contenders — Oregon, Arizona
All due respect to the other nine teams in the conference, but this is a three-horse race. You could really just swap in either Oregon or Arizona in the favorite spot and not many people would complain. Their seeding position currently is about the same as UCLA. If Oregon or Arizona wins the PAC 12 tournament, they’ll be a lock for a two-seed. And, they’ll need the same help that UCLA hopes to get.
Neither team will drop below the three-seed line, even with a loss.
Pretenders — USC, Utah, California, Colorado, Arizona State, Stanford, Washington, Washington State, Oregon State
USC needs to defeat Washington tonight. Then, they must give UCLA all they can handle to try and grab a spot in the first four, which is likely where they are heading if they end up in the tournament.
If Utah manages to make the championship game, I could see them sneaking in as an at-large—even if they can’t take home the title. As for everyone else, they’ll need to run the table if they want to have a happy Selection Sunday.
Are you buying into this being a three-horse race?