The 2012 Pac-12 Championship is upon us. Whether you like to watch mediocre basketball or are looking for a possible team to make a run all the way from Los Angeles to the Final Four, here is your guide.
2012 Pac-12 Tournament Schedule – March 7-10 – Los Angeles (All Times Pacific)
While the Pac-12 may be in a down year, this is going to be one of the most competitive conference tournaments of Championship Week. Any of the top seven seeds are capable of winning it, and with the exception of Washington and California, no team is locked into the NCAA Tournament. Every team outside of the top four will be playing for their NCAA lives, which could make the first day of the tournament surprisingly entertaining. In reality though, only the top seven seeds have a realistic shot at taking the Pac-12′s automatic bid. To make a run through a conference tournament, especially when you need to win four games in four days, you need three or more really solid players. UCLA has Lazeric Jones, Travis and David Wear, and Joshua Smith, Colorado has Carlon Brown, Andre Roberson, Austin Dufault, and Spencer Dinwiddie, and Stanford has Chasson Brown, Josh Owens, and Aaron Bright. Those groups of players can lead their teams through the tournament, but the rest of the field behind them has only one or two solid players they can count on.
Three and four seeds Oregon and Arizona are the two teams that can still play their way into the NCAA Tournament as an at-large. While a lot of things can still shake out around the nation, the Wildcats and Ducks will likely have to advance to the championship in order to have a chance. Arizona’s going to have the tougher road to the championship as they will likely have to face a hot UCLA team in the quarterfinals, and most likely top-seeded Washington in the semis. However, the tougher the game is, the more of an impression the Wildcats will be able to make on the selection committee. And that’s a good thing, considering they need to push their way past teams like NC State, Miami (Florida), and Iona before Sunday.
Favorite: California. Their loss last Sunday against Stanford not withstanding, this is a talented and deep Golden Bear team that has the easiest path to a championship out of the top four seeds. They will most likely face the Cardinal again in the quarterfinals, but there is no way they lose to them twice in a row, especially with NCAA Tournament seeeding on the line. I’ll even take them over top-seeded Washington after the Bears went up to Seattle and beat the Huskies back in January.