Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Pac-12 conference tournament preview

This is part 23 of a 32-part series.

Arizona 14-4
USC 12-6
Utah 11-7
UCLA 11-7
Stanford 11-7
Oregon 10-8
Washington 10-8
Colorado 8-10
Arizona St 8-10
Oregon St 7-11
Washington St 4-14
Cal 2-16

March 7-10.  Yet another Vegas tourney.

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

The stakes:
Arizona's seed could be tricky.  Conference champs do seem to get a mild boost from the committee from time to time, and the metrics are okay (non-con SoS 72, 4-3 vs. Group 1, etc etc).  Their win over A&M is kind of a resume saver at least from the perspective of getting a protected seed.  I've thought the 5 line is weak, and I've kept Arizona as a 4 as a result.  I feel like that's their range almost no matter what they do this week.

Arizona St is such a weird case.  Under .500 in this conference should almost automatically mean busto for their resume, but they have 2 wins over 1 seeds.  You just can't leave that out when most of the other metrics are at least okay.  They better beat Colorado though, just in case.  It'll at least count as a group 2 win (their 8th combined Group 1/2 win, which is in the lower end of acceptable for bubble teams).  I just can't leave those two signature wins out of the field at the moment.

USC is another weird resume.  They definitely have a quality win issue (4 group 1 wins all coming over bubble teams).  Yet most of their measurables are okay (winning road record, 4-6 vs. Group 1).  They're in a weird spot in the bracket where Washington/Utah/Oregon don't really help them at all.  I feel like with no red flags that they're in good shape, but get back to me if they lose a stupid game.

UCLA.  Similar to USC, but with two key differences.  Road record is poor, and they have a couple of legitimate business wins (@Zona, UK).  Frankly there's an argument for them over USC, and an argument for USC over them, and both are very reasonable arguments.  It might come down to committee preference.  UCLA is also in a good bracket spot where beating Stanford might be enough.  Beating Zona is a big ask, and they avoid all the dangerous bubble teams that could hurt the resume.

Utah, Washington, Oregon.  Your three longshot bubble teams.  Going into this week, I thought they were all a signature win away from legitimate conversation, and they all ended up on the wrong side of the bracket.  I don't think USC is going to be a useful enough win for any of them.  However, if USC doesn't make the finals....the team that does is going to get some bubble run.  It's at least worth considering them, whoever it is.

Stanford gets the draw the other teams so desperately needed.  If they beat UCLA AND Arizona, we might want to talk about them for a minute.  Don't think they'll get there, but it's worth putting them on the board to look at then.

All these teams are going to pile into the NIT if they don't get in.  Colorado is starting to look like a NIT bubble team on the wrong side of the bubble now.

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