With the Pac-12 Tournament kicking off today in Las Vegas, Adam Butler of Pachoops.com and our own Andrew Murawa and Connor Pelton weigh in on some of the big questions that will be answered this weekend in Sin City.
Outside of regular season champion Arizona, which is the most dangerous team in the tournament?
AB: The Utah Utes are one dangerous group. It’s not the sexiest argument to say they’ve “played everyone close” but the fact of the matter is they have beaten or taken every team in the conference to overtime. I’ve waited all year long for this team to break when they’ve sustained close loss after close loss but they never have. They have some great guard play in 1st teamer Delon Wright and the sweet shooting Brandon Taylor. They’ve also got a uniquely talented big in Jordan Loveridge who had 15 and 20 points, respectively, in his first two Pac-12 tournament games. The Utes are dangerous.
AM: In a tournament where there are maybe eight teams that could win this thing, I’m going to give the nod to Arizona State. Jahii Carson has started to turn things on over the last couple weeks after a very underwhelming bulk of the conference season, and he’s shown a penchant for coming up with big games in Las Vegas. In his five previous games played in Sin City, he’s scored better than 30 three times, hit 40 earlier this season against UNLV and averaged 28.8 points in those games. Throw in talented scoring wing Jermaine Marshall who is a great foil for Carson, athletic freak Shaquielle McKissic who is dangerous in transition, and dangerous shooters like Jonathan Gilling and Bo Barnes and you’ve got a recipe for an explosive offensive team. And we haven’t even talked about Jordan Bachynski, the Pac-12’s all-time leading shotblocker and the anchor of Herb Sendek’s best defensive team in the KenPom era. Look for the Sun Devils to be a tough out this weekend.
CP: When picking the winner of a conference tournament, you’d best go with the hottest team coming in. And no team out west is on a roll more than Oregon. Due to some bad luck with the league’s seeding tiebreak procedures, the Ducks not only have to play in the first round, but miss a game with USC or Washington State as well. But while winning four games in four days will be a challenge, if anyone can do it, it’s this team. They are living by the three-pointer right now, and I could easily see them taking the Pac-12 automatic bid.