Nearly every team at this week’s Pac-12 tournament is playing for something other than a conference tournament title.
Top seed Arizona needs a win or two to secure a No. 1 seed in next week’s NCAA tournament. A handful of teams such as UCLA and Arizona State are looking to improve their position in the NCAAs. Several teams at the bottom of the conference standings such as Washington and Oregon, which meet noon Wednesday in a first-round game, must win the Pac-12 tourney to advance to the NCAA tourney.
And then there’s the bubble teams like California and Stanford who need a win or two to punch their ticket to the Big Dance.
Here’s a look at three NCAA tourney projections.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had six Pac-12 teams in his latest bracket, which include: Arizona (1-west), UCLA (6-east), Oregon (8-east), Arizona State (8-south), Colorado (10-west) and Stanford (10-east). Note: Stanford, one of the last four teams in, and California, one of the first four teams out, are considered bubble teams.
Jerry Palm at CBSsports.com had been rather consistent in his belief that seven Pac-12 teams will make the tourney. Now he’s pared his list six teams with Cal on the outside looking in. Here’s his bracket: Arizona (1-west), UCLA (7-south), Oregon (8-east), Colorado (9-midwest), Arizona State (9-south) and Stanford (10-east). Note: Stanford is also considered a bubble team.
SI.com’s Michael Beller’s NCAA tournament forecast also includes seven Pac-12 teams: Arizona (1-west), UCLA (7-east), Oregon (8-south), Arizona State (9-midwest), Colorado (10-west) and Stanford (11-midwest). Note: Cal is the first team outside of Beller’s bracket.
TUESDAY MORNING LINKS:
— C.J. Wilcox and the Huskies are trying to understand how the Pac-12 coaches could snub the UW star and leave him off the 10-man all-conference first team.
— Oregon coach Dana Altman told the Oregonian: “I was really surprised C.J, Wilcox wasn’t on (first team) or Roberto (Nelson).”
— In his first year with Utah, junior-college transfer Delon Wright has made a big impact. On Monday he was named to the first team all-Pac-12 and chosen to the all-defensive team. He told the Salt Lake Tribune: “It means a lot to me. This is one of the goals that I wanted, and this is one of the reasons that I wanted to play in the Pac-12. I wanted to go against the best and to test myself against the best. It means a lot, and I’m honored that a lot of people voted for me.”
— Arizona junior Nick Johnson was named the Pac-12 MVP. However, he had sights set on a different award. “My goal was to get defensive player of the year,” Johnson said told the Arizona Daily Star. “Didn’t achieve that. I have the other one. But that’s what my mind-set was going into this year and I’m thankful for being on the defensive team.”
— Defending Pac-12 tournament champion Oregon and reigning tourney MVP Johnathan Loyd are anxious to return to Las Vegas.
— Oregon State is among the 10 teams – sorry Washington State and USC – who have a legitimate chance to win the Pac-12 tourney. The Beavers will also have starting guard Langston Morris-Walker available. He missed the regular-season finale after being driving under the influence of intoxicants.
— Arizona State had two players – Jahii Carson and Jordan Bachynski – named to the all-conference first team. Bachynski, who was selected the defensive player of the year, told the Arizona Republic: “It’s a huge honor. I pride myself on my defense, and it feels good to be recognized for that, but honestly right now I’m not thinking about that. I’m thinking about our next few games.”
— California senior guard Justin Cobbs also made first team all-conference and Golden Bears coach Mike Montgomery told the Mercury News: “I don’t see how you could have a first team without Justin on there.”
— Here’s a Pac-12 tournament preview that tabs the Oregon-Oregon State game as the best first-round matchup.