Pac-12 Tournament Predictions
The 2013 Pac-12 Tournament gets underway on Wednesday, March 13 in Las Vegas, NV. The UCLA Bruins have earned the No. 1 overall seed thanks to a 13-5 conference record during the regular season. No. 2 California, No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 Arizona all finished one game back at 12-6. All four of these teams should be going to the NCAA Tournament no matter what happens in the conference tourney.
No. 9 Arizona State is probably the only other team that could play its way into the Big Dance without winning the Pac-12 Tournament. The other seven teams will all likely have to win it all to make the NCAA Tournament. I’m going to go through and give my picks for each round of this conference tournament, eventually coming up with an overall winner. Here are my predictions.
First Round – Wednesday, March 13 (Pac-12 Network)
3:00 EST – No. 8 Stanford (18-13) vs. No. 9 Arizona State (20-11) – The Cardinal went on the road and beat the Sun Devils 62-59 in their lone meeting during the regular season. After closing out the regular season with victories over Utah and at California, I like the way they are playing heading into the Pac-12 Tournament. Stanford takes care of business in the opener.
5:30 EST – No. 5 Colorado (20-10) vs. No. 12 Oregon State (14-17) – Home-court advantage was not a factor when these teams met up in the regular season. Colorado won at Oregon State 72-68 on February 10th, while the Beavers got revenge with a 64-58 road victory in the regular season finale on March 9th. The Buffaloes need this win to get into the NCAA Tournament, and I believe they’ll get it.
9:00 EST – No. 7 USC (14-17) vs. No. 10 Utah (13-17) – The Trojans rolled at Utah 76-59 in their lone meeting during the regular season back on January 12th. The Utes have been a much improved team since that defeat, including back-to-back victories over Oregon State and then-No. 19 Oregon by double-digits to close out the regular season. I look for Utah to get revenge in the rematch.
11:30 EST – No. 6 Washington (17-14) vs. No. 11 Washington State (13-18) – The Huskies won both regular season meeting 68-63 on the road on January 5th, and 72-68 at home on March 3rd. They won three of htier final four games to close out the season. I have Washington squeaking out a third victory over their in-state rivals in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Quarterfinals – Thursday, March 14 (ESPNU/Pac-12 Network)
3:00 EST – No. 1 UCLA (23-8) vs. No. 8 Stanford – The Bruins won both regular season meetings by exactly 8 points each. They won 68-60 at home over the Cardinal on January 5th, and 88-80 at Stanford on February 16th. The Cardinal will play them tough, but I expect UCLA to get a third victory of the season in this series.
5:30 EST – No. 4 Arizona (24-6) vs. No. 5 Colorado – The Buffaloes were the better team in this series during the regular season. They lost 83-92 (OT) at Arizona after having the game taken away from them by the official, but came back with a 71-58 home victory over the Wildcats on February 14th. I still believe that Arizona is the better team and it will win the grudge match.
9:00 EST – No. 2 California (20-10) vs. No. 10 Utah – The Bears won both regular season meetings with a 62-57 road victory on January 24th, and a 64-46 triumph at home on February 28th. California has won nine of its last 11 games as it is clearly the hottest team heading into the Pac-12 Tournament. The Utes won’t be able to pull off the upset here.
11:30 EST – No. 3 Oregon (23-8) vs. No. 6 Washington – The Ducks won both regular season meetings with an 81-76 home victory on January 26th, and a 65-52 road win on February 13th. However, Oregon is ripe for the picking after losing back-to-back road games to Colorado (76-53) and Utah (72-62) to close out the regular season. Washington has won three of its last four coming in, and it gets revenge in the third meeting.
Semifinals – Friday, March 15 (ESPN/Pac-12 Network)
9:00 EST – No. 1 UCLA vs. No. 4 Arizona – The Bruins won both regular season meetings with an 84-73 road win on January 24th, and a 74-69 home victory on March 2nd. Arizona was picked by most to win the Pac-12 this year. I look for it to exact its revenge and get some payback with a victory over UCLA in the semifinals.
11:30 EST – No. 2 California vs. No. 6 Washington – The Huskies trounced the Bears on the road on January 9th by a final of 62-47 in their lone regular season meeting. Cal has been a completely different team since, and it will put an end to Washington’s impressive tournament run to get to the semifinals. The Bears advance to the championship.
Championship – Saturday, March 16 (ESPN)
11:00 EST – No. 4 Arizona vs. No. 2 California – The Bears won the lone regular season meeting with an impressive 77-69 victory at then-No. 7 Arizona on February 10th. That triumph started a run in which Cal won seven of its final eight games to close out the season. The Bears have the easiest path to the title game, and when they get there I look for them to prove victorious to stay red hot heading into the NCAA Tournament.