It felt like we spent a lot of time laughing at the Pac-12 last season. This conference is no laughing matter this year. Oregon leads the pack into the Pac-12 Tournament at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, but there could be as many as seven teams in the NCAA Tournament depending how this week plays out. This conference has had a resurgence of sorts and we may see it on display this week.
All 12 teams are on hand for the festivities and only the top four get a bye into the quarterfinals. It’s crazy to think that this is already the fourth year at T-Mobile Arena, which has been a pretty neutral arena for the most part as far as totals go. Last year was the first in which the title game was not 1 vs. 2. It was actually 6 vs. 1, as Oregon won the tournament and solidified a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The Pac-12 has made some strides to be sure. Bart Torvik has them ranked fifth in his list of the 32 conferences. They were seventh last year, trailing the Big East and AAC, along with the four majors. They were sixth in 2018 and 2017. College basketball is better overall when the Pac-12 is decent and it looks to be much improved this season.
Here are the teams, seeds, standings, and odds from BetOnline Sportsbook for the 2020 Pac-12 Conference Tournament:
- Oregon 24-7 (13-5) +150
- UCLA 19-12 (12-6) +275
- Arizona State 20-11 (11-7) (record v. Oregon) +1200
- USC 21-9 (11-7) +1000
- Arizona 20-11 (10-8) (H2H tiebreaker) +275
- Colorado 21-10 (10-8) +400
- Stanford 20-11 (9-9) +1000
- Oregon State 17-13 (7-11) (record v. Oregon) +4000
- Utah 16-14 (7-11) (record v. ASU/USC) +6600
- Cal 13-18 (7-11) +8000
- Washington State 15-16 (6-12) +8000
- Washington 15-16 (5-13) +2500
It always felt like Oregon was the team with the most upside and the highest ceiling in this conference. They draw the #1 seed and we all know how well Dana Altman has done throughout his career in tournaments with quick turnarounds. He is the best coach in this conference bar none and you have to factor that into the equation with how much planning in a short period of time has to be done.
The Los Angeles teams made a really big push to come in second and fourth. UCLA’s push was a little later than USC’s, which is why some still think that UCLA is sitting precariously on the bubble. The Bruins were playing as well as anybody in the nation for a few weeks in February and on into March.
Arizona is arguably the most talented team in the conference, but Sean Miller has done well squandering talent for a while now. The Wildcats are thought to have as many as three lottery picks on the roster, but draw a #5 seed here.
Here is the schedule for the 2020 Pac-12 Tournament:
Wednesday March 11
12 p.m. PT: 9 Utah vs. 8 Oregon State
2:30 p.m. PT: 12 Washington vs. 5 Arizona
6 p.m. PT: 10 Cal vs. 7 Stanford
8:30 p.m. PT: 11 Washington State vs. 6 Colorado
Thursday March 12
12 p.m. PT: 9/8 winner vs. 1 Oregon
2:30 p.m. PT: 12/5 winner vs. 4 USC
6 p.m. PT: 10/7 winner vs. 2 UCLA
8:30 p.m. PT: 11/6 winner vs. 3 Arizona State
Friday March 13
6 p.m. PT: 9/8/1 winner vs. 12/5/4 winner
8:30 p.m. PT: 10/7/2 winner vs. 11/6/3 winner
Saturday March 14
7:30 p.m. PT: Championship Game
It is hard to like the draw for any of the top seeds here. Oregon State already knocked off Oregon once and opening with a rivalry game is never something that I like for teams that are expected to make long conference tournament runs. Those games never seem to be a walk in the park and can really hurt a #1 seed’s chances. Then the Ducks could very well run into an Arizona team with maybe the highest ceiling in the conference. If not, they’ll get a USC team that is second in the conference in adjusted defensive efficiency.
UCLA is likely to draw a very motivated Stanford team looking to solidify its bid. If the Bruins are able to survive that test, it sure seems like they’d meet the Colorado vs. Arizona State winner, which might be the better draw of the two in the semifinals. I happen to think Arizona State is a pretty weak #3 seed. In fact, Colorado might be the scarier of the two opponents for UCLA.
If we look at how things set up here, Oregon is the top dog offensively and USC is the top dog defensively. That includes a 29% 3P% against and a 43.2% 2P% against. Oregon has the biggest TO% discrepancy on the plus side and ranks second in TO% on offense and third in TO% on defense. Oregon’s halfcourt defense isn’t stellar in terms of shot defense, but those extra possessions matter a lot with an offense as good as that one.
Arizona grades better on offense than defense as far as the conference goes. For some reason, scoring points, particularly two-pointers, has been rather difficult for the Wildcats. Stanford actually has some of the best shooting numbers in the conference and a solid defense, but has major problems taking care of the basketball and rebounding.
Like a lot of conferences without a dominant team, there are potentially fatal flaws all over the place when you talk about winning three or four games in as many days.
Oregon should win the conference tournament as the best team with a head coach like Dana Altman that does really well in this setting. I just don’t like the draw for Oregon with a likely rival in the quarters, a high-upside Arizona in the semis, and then the winner of the bottom of the bracket.
Colorado is the team I’d take a long, hard look at here. The first game against Washington State should be a gimme. Colorado was a pick ‘em at Arizona State earlier this year in the only meeting, so they’re a favorite in the 6/3 game there. The Buffaloes were -10.5 at home to UCLA and -4.5 on the road. While UCLA is better now, we have a #6 seed that could, conceivably, be favored all the way until the finals.
The price reflects exactly that since Colorado is +400, so a money line rollover probably becomes the best course of action, particularly if the Buffs meet Oregon and wind up an underdog in that situation.
UCLA may just be good enough at +700 to take a piece of as well. Shop around for a better Colorado price because you are very likely to find one. I do think they have a decent draw here, though.
Pick: Colorado +400