Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Pac-12 conference tournament preview

This is part 24 of a 32-part series that will take a look at every conference and conference tournament in the country.  We'll recap who's playing and what the stakes are for each team in the conference.

The standings:
Oregon 14-4 (25-6)
Utah 13-5 (24-7)
California 12-6 (22-9)
Arizona 12-6 (24-7)
Colorado 10-8 (21-10)
Oregon St 9-9 (18-11)
USC 9-9 (20-11)
Washington 9-9 (17-13)
Stanford 8-10 (15-14)
UCLA 6-12 (15-16)
Arizona St 4-13 (15-16)
Washington St 1-17 (9-21)

Tournament format:
Vegas.  Wednesday March 9 to Saturday March 12.  Bill Walton figures to be prominently involved.

The matchups:
1) Oregon vs. 8/9) Washington/Stanford
4) Arizona vs. 5/12) Colorado/Washington St
2) Utah vs. 7/10) USC/UCLA
3) California vs. 6/11) Oregon St/Arizona St

The stakes:
Can Oregon get to the 1 line?  Nah.  They absorbed a couple too many body blows.  They're mostly playing to stay on the 2 line.  However, does it even matter?  Thanks to geography, they're a lock to play in Spokane.  And when I did my brackets, the chances of Oregon playing in the west regional actually increased when they were a top 3 seed instead of the last 2 seed.  The reason being, as the last 2 seed, they got last priority for geography, and conference conflicts moved them around.  As the top 3 seed, they are more likely to get the west regional as their priority.  Therefore, winning this tournament might actually get Oregon shipped away from the west regional.  Go figure.

Can Utah get to the 2 line?  Possible, especially if they get Cal and Oregon as scalps.  More likely they're competing to stay on the 3 line, although again, remember the east-west balance this year.  It just might not matter much where Utah exactly falls.

Arizona and Cal are reasonable candidates for a 4 seed if they get one signature win (or two).  However, both have a glaring red flag (Arizona's non-con SoS; Cal's road record).  They don't stack up well compared to, say, the Iowa St/Texas/Baylor grouping from the Big 12, or Purdue/Iowa, or perhaps A&M.  While they're in that 4-6 range, one bad loss could really be damaging and send them towards the bottom of a tier at the 7 line.

Colorado is a lock, USC is a lock.  I'd rather neith lose their layup first game to make things easy on me.  They could do big damage to their seeds.

Oregon St is your bubble team.  Do they need to get past Cal?  They've got 5 conference wins over legit tourney teams, but all are home.  They could really use that neutral site boon.  They have the feel of a classic Good Bad team that wins the quality games at home and loses the quality games on the road.  My hunch is the wins elevate the profile, but it's a true tossup if they lose to Cal.

I think Washington has absorbed too many body blows.  Now, beating Oregon and Arizona can change that, but we'll wait for that to happen before we talk.  Stanford has 12 top 35 losses.  That's almost impossible to do.  Too many body blows here too, even if they run out to the finals.  I think.  Only 2 true road wins makes things unmanageable.

Remember back in January when 11 of the 12 teams were legit contenders?  Someone had to absorb losses for the betterment of the group, and that task fell upon UCLA and Arizona St.  No postseason for them.

No comments: