Pac-12 Who’s Going WherePosted by Connor Pelton on March 13th, 2012
Here’s a look at each Pac-12 team’s postseason capsule, by order of each team’s tip-off. Enjoy!
Who, When, Where: vs. LSU (18-14) in Eugene, Oregon, NIT First Round, 3/13, 6:30 PM PDT, ESPN
First Up: What the Tigers lack in scoring they make up in rebounds and points in the paint. LSU averages 37 RPG and they are led by big men Justin Hamilton and Storm Warren. What makes the Tigers dangerous is their ability to adapt to a certain style. They will play at the pace you want the game at, and then beat you with your own style.
Best Case Scenario: With the way Oregon has been playing of late (Pac-12 Tournament notwithstanding), the Ducks can easily make a run in this tournament. With players like Devoe Joseph and Garrett Sim that are able to create and knock down their own shots, Oregon should be able to beat LSU in the first round. After that things get much more tough, but I can’t see the Ducks losing a “best case scenario” game until they would likely meet either Seton Hall or Arizona in the championship.
Worst Case Scenario: Even if the Ducks do not play well against the Tigers, home-court advantage should pull them through to the next round. However, they would likely have to travel to Dayton in the second round, and the Flyers pose matchup problems all over the court for Oregon. Expect an Oregon-Dayton matchup to be much like last Thursday’s Colorado-Oregon game. The Flyers stingy defense and potent offense should build a large lead early on against the Ducks, and while Oregon battles to cut the deficit to three with four minutes left, it is never able to come all the way back after a long road trip and an emotinal comeback drians all of its energy.
Who, Where, When: vs. Texas-Arlington (24-8) in Seattle, Washington, NIT First Round, 3/13, 7:00 PM PDT, ESPNU
First Up: This is a very solid and under-seeded Texas-Arlington team that Washington has to face in the first round. The Mavericks finished the regular season at 24-8, and while there were some head-scratching losses in there (Samford, Texas San Antonio, and McNeese State to name a few), the Mavericks were able to dominate night in and night out for most of the season. However, playing in front of small crowds in the middle of Texas during Southland conference play is a lot different from traveling into the teeth of the Dawg Pack, and the talent and crowd should overwhelm UTA in this opening round NIT game.
Best Case Scenario: Despite being a one seed, the Huskies looked like more of a two or three seed down the stretch this season. They can play mediocre basketball and still beat UTA and either Northwestern or Akron, but their season should end when they face either Dayton or Oregon in the quarterfinals. In order to make a run in any kind of tournament you need depth and balance, and the Huskies have neither in their big men. Darnell Gant is their best option down low, and while he is a rebounding machine, his inability to turn those rebounds into points has hurt the Huskies the last couple of weeks.
Worst Case Scenario: After sleep-walking to a 77-71 victory in the first round, Husky fans are nervous as they head into their second round meeting with Northwestern. The Wildcats, who narrowly missed the NCAA field, felt disrespected by being given a four seed in the NIT, and it showed in their 69-50 thrashing of a good Akron team in the first round. The game is close from the start, and the Huskies lead by two with ten seconds left and Tony Wroten, Jr. heading to the line. Wroten has flashbacks to just two games prior, a game in which he missed four free throws in the final 20 seconds to lose the game against Oregon State. Dawg fans grown as they watch Wroten miss both badly, Northwestern take the ball up the court, and Drew Crawford hit the winning three as time expires to end Washington’s season.
Who, Where, When: @ San Francisco (20-13) in San Francisco, California, CBI First Round, 3/13, 7:00 PM PDT, HDNet
First Up: Not counting the Cougars, there are four other solid teams in this field. Unfortunately for them, they play one of those four on the road in the first round. The Dons have wins over Gonzaga and Montana, and are led by senior forward Angelo Caloiaro. Caloiaro is averaging 14.2 PPG and 6.1 RPG.
Best Case Scenario: Let’s face it, the Cougars aren’t exactly playing great basketball as of late. They’ve lost five out of their last seven, and the two wins were against Arizona State and USC. Since this is a best case scenario, I’ll take the Cougars to escape out of San Francisco with a five-point victory, but it’s going to be awfully tough for them to advance after that. The winner of North Dakota State–Wyoming will be awaiting the Cougs, and especially if the opponent is the Cowboys, Washington State’s season should end in the quarterfinals.
Worst Case Scenario: The Cougars do come out prepared and hyped up for their first round game on the bay, but so do the Dons. The game is close all the way through, with each team trading runs led by Brock Motum and a surprise performance from Perris Blackwell. With three minutes to play however, USF makes the final run, going on a 13-4 binge to win it 65-60.
Who, When, Where: vs. Cleveland State (22-10) in Stanford, California, NIT First Round, 3/13, 8:00PM PDT, ESPN2
First Up: The Vikings started their season by winning 20 of their first 24 games, but struggled down the stretch, losing six in a row in February and seven of their last nine. The Cardinal and the Vikings match up pretty well, with both teams very average offensively but solid defensively. Cleveland State relies on forcing turnovers as their primary defensive weapon, using that to jumpstart their offense, and Stanford is susceptible to that, but Cleveland State commits their share of unforced errors when they have the ball as well. Stanford’s ability to take advantage of the Vikings on the glass should be the difference here.
Best Case Scenario: Johnny Dawkins uses this time to send his seniors out in style while mixing in plenty of minutes for the eight underclassmen expected back next year. Wins are certainly preferable to losses, and Stanford has the ability to make a pretty significant run in this tournament, but the priority should be player development.
Worst Case Scenario: The Cardinal sleepwalk through opening night and drop their first round game to Cleveland State in a barrage of turnovers and fouls.
Who, When, Where: vs. Bucknell (23-11) in Tucson, Arizona, NIT First Round, 3/14, 6:00 PM PDT, ESPN2
First Up: If these two teams were playing a regular season game, we take Arizona and never look back. But in the NIT, it is just as often about which team comes to play as it is about talent. Bucknell does some things very well, defensive rebounding and blocking shots first and foremost, largely because of 6’11” junior center Mike Muscala. And it is Muscala who will give the Wildcats the most trouble, given their relative lack of size. Just as concerning for head coach Sean Miller: does Arizona still have their head in the game? Miller is a good enough coach that he should be able to get his team’s attention, and he will certainly have the help of seniors Jesse Perry and Kyle Fogg as they try to extend their careers just a little bit longer.
Best Case Scenario: Talent wise, Arizona is just about as good as anybody else in this tournament. The can certainly get to Madison Square Garden if they bring their A-game and could see Washington in the final if everybody keeps their focus.
Worst Case Scenario: A combination of lethargy and Mike Muscala combine to spell an early end to Arizona’s season. And Wildcat fans more used to NCAA appearances barely bat an eye.
Who, When, Where: vs. South Florida (20-13) in Dayton, Ohio, NCAA First Round, 3/14, 6:10PM PDT, truTV
First Up: The Bulls are going to ugly things up, slow the pace to a grind and try to use exciting freshman guard Anthony Collins to make some late-clock plays, but the Bears have no problem playing in ugly games and can match USF blow for blow; senior Jorge Gutierrez certainly isn’t going to be impressed by Collins and crew. Fact is, as good as the Bulls are defensively, Cal is right there with them, while they are far superior to the young USF team on the offensive end. None of USF’s four highest-use players on the offensive end are particularly efficient, while each of Cal’s four biggest offensive threats (Gutierrez, Allen Crabbe, Justin Cobbs, and Harper Kamp) are better than anything USF has to offer.
Best Case Scenario: I know that I’m supposed to tell you how the best case scenario for the Golden Bears is that they don’t get embarrassed by USF in their opener, but Cal definitely has a chance to make some waves. Next up would be a tough Temple team that is not as good defensively as previous great Owl teams. And, Cal’s got the perimeter players to match up with Temple’s four-out, one-in style; that’s a winnable game for the Golden Bears. And, if they can get through the second round, Michigan in the third round with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line and another freshman point for Gutierrez to harass? I’m not saying it is likely, but in a best case scenario, Cal could certainly make it through the first weekend.
Worst Case Scenario: California is certainly capable of losing to USF, but things would have to break pretty bad for that to happen. Cal losing to Temple on Friday, however, is a far more likely downfall as the Owls, while certainly not as tough defensively, has the most offensive weapons that Cal has faced since they were blown out by Missouri back in November.
Who, When, Where: vs. Western Illinois (18-14) in Corvallis, Oregon, CBI First Round, 3/14, 7:00 PM PDT, HDNet
First Up: This is a dangerous matchup for what could very possibly be a disinterested Oregon State team. If the Beavers come out with the same “Ho-hum, this tournament doesn’t matter” attitude that they put forth in the 2010 version of the CBI, they will face the same result as their 96-78 loss to Boston University in the first round that season. However, if the Beavers show up ready to play and fired up after their run to the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals, they should have no trouble with the visiting Leathernecks.
Best Case Scenario: Head coach Craig Robinson and the Beavers have been here before, and while I don’t think Robinson will earn a second CBI title, the Beavers could easily reach that Best-of-Three championship series. Assuming they come out and handle Western Illinois, the Beavers would face either Milwaukee or TCU in the quarterfinals. Neither of those teams should worry Beaver fans too much, as both teams had some pretty bad losses in the regular season (Western Michigan, USC). The CBI then selects the semifinal matchups, and if they get a win there it will be on to the CBI championship for the second time in four seasons.
Worst Case Scenario: The Beavers, due to disinterest and taking the Leathernecks lightly, find themselves in a 44-30 hole going into halftime in front of a quiet gathering due to Spring Break in Gill Coliseum. The Beavers would trail by 19 before getting their act together, but by then it was too late. The final is 85-78, pushing them into the offseason on a sour note to spoil a great March.
Who, When, Where: vs. UNLV (23-11) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, NCAA Second 3/15, 6:57PM PDT, truTV
First Up: The good news is the Buffs play a Rebel team that is now months away from playing its best basketball of the season. Inspiring further optimism is the fact that the Buffs have a ready-made matchup for UNLV’s most dynamic player – Mike Moser – in the person of sophomore Andre Roberson. In fact, I dare say that this may be the single most intriguing individual matchup in the tournament. But if Colorado is going to have a chance to spring the upset on Thursday, they’ll need major contributions from their freshman backcourt duo of Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie. While upperclassmen like Carlon Brown and Nate Tomlinson have brought them this far, it will be the youngsters who have to drag them to the promised land.
Best Case Scenario: Who’s to say Roberson can’t battle Moser to a draw? And who’s to say Colorado can’t slow the Runnin’ Rebels down to a jog, or even a walk. If they can do that, Dinwiddie and Booker have shown their ability to make big plays in the clutch this year and maybe the Buffs sneak on to the weekend where they will likely face Baylor, a team they played nearly to a standstill in their only meeting last season. Still, it is very unlikely that the Buffs have the horses to hang with the Bears – a team that features multiple future NBA players – for 40 minutes. If Boyle’s squad can earn a single win in the tourney this year, they should be very pleased.
Worst Case Scenario: The good Moser shows up and dismantles a still-developing Roberson, while the more athletic UNLV guards run the Colorado backcourt into the ground in a nightcap that sends college basketball fans to bed early on Thursday night.