Pac-12 Tournament Predictions
The 17th edition of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament tips off on Wednesday, March 12. This tournament features the 12 league members and will run through Saturday, March 15. The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas will host the event, making this one of the most prestigious conference tournaments in the country.
The winner will claim the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. While several teams do not need wins to get into the big dance, there are a few out there still who need a good showing in the Pac-12 Tournament to continue playing beyond. Arizona, UCLA and Arizona State should be safe, but teams like California, Utah, Stanford and possibly Colorado would all benefit from picking up a win or two.
This was a very competitive conference in 2014, and it was easily one of the strongest in the country. It would not surprise me one bit to see a team from the Pac-12 make it to the Final Four. Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State and Cal have earned the top four seeds, and thus will get a bye into the second round. I’m going to take a look at the favorite, a value play, and a sleeper to win the 2014 Pac-12 Tournament.
Pac-12 Tournament Bracket
The Favorite: Arizona (-110)
The Wildcats (28-3, 15-3) were the best team in the Pac-12 all season, hands down. While they did lose their regular-season finale to Oregon, their three conference losses came by a combined 12 points. They rank in the top-10 nationally in scoring defense (58.7 ppg) and opponent field goal percentage (.385). They will be fighting for a possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Arizona owns the most tournament wins (4) in the conference. Sean Miller’s bunch should have a great shot at adding to the collection despite the season-ending injury to Brandon Ashley (11.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg). Nick Johnson (16.1 ppg, 4.0 apg), Aaron Gordon (12.3 ppg, 7.8 apg), Kaleb Tarczewski (10.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (8.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg) have all stepped up their games in his absence.
The Value Play: Oregon (+700)
The defending Pac-12 Tournament champion Ducks (22-8, 10-8) have been on one heck of a roller coaster ride this season. They rose to 10th in the national rankings by opening 13-0 after an overtime win over Utah in their conference opener. They would lose five straight and eight of their next 10 from there. Miraculously, they were able to win eight straight games to close out the regular season, which included victories over the top three seeds in this tournament in UCLA, ASU and Arizona.
Oregon really underachieved for a lot of the year, but showed what it was capable of in the beginning and the end. That’s why I believe it is the value play here because it is the most talented team in the field outside of perhaps Arizona. The Ducks rank ninth nationally in scoring (82.3 ppg). They are led by Joseph Young (18.2 ppg) and Mike Moser (13.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg), who can put this team on their shoulders for big stretches of games.
The Sleeper: Utah (+1700)
This team really deserves a shot at the NCAA Tournament, but for now, they are on the outside looking in. They’ll be motivated to prove their doubters wrong in the Pac-12 Tournament. Sure, they only went 9-9 within the conference, but a closer look at their losses shows that they were a much better team than their record would indicate. Their first five losses this season all came by 4 points or less.
That would be a sign of things to come for the Utes (20-10, 9-9 Pac-12) as a whopping eight of their 10 losses were by 4 points or fewer. The only exceptions were road losses to the top teams in the conference in Arizona (65-56) and UCLA (80-66), which were expected. This team can compete with anyone on a neutral floor. Not one of the top seeds in this tournament will be looking forward to playing Utah again.
Odds to Win Pac-12 Tournament