Bracketology Preview: Pac-12 Predictions

Today is Day 6 and the final day of my Bracketology Previews for all the major conferences. To wrap things up, I decided to save the “Conference of Champions” for last, the Pac-12. If you have watched college basketball this season, it is easy to conclude that the Pac-12 has been the weakest of top 6 conferences, but my contain this year’s NCAA Tournament champions. Arizona, Oregon, and UCLA are all legit contenders in March this year and could be cutting down the nets in Arizona. Be sure to check out all the other Bracketology Previews in case you missed one and be sure to check out all of the College Pride Press Bracketology content being released these next few weeks. With that said, let’s get into talking about our final conference, the Pac-12.

(* Denotes neutral court game)

 

Arizona Wildcats (25-3) (14-1)

RPI Rank: 10  BPI Rank: 22  AP Rank: 4

Best Wins: @ #3 UCLA, v.s. #12 Michigan State*, @ USC

Worst Losses: v.s. Butler*, v.s. #8 Gonzaga*

 

Arizona has the talent, offense, and defense to win a National Championship this year! The three games the Wildcats have lost this season have all been to what are now top 25 teams in the country, and two of the losses were on a neutral court. Led by freshman forward, Lauri Markkanen (15.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 45.7 3P%), and the return of Allonzo Trier (13.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG), Arizona wears you down defensively and immediately attacks you inside with their quick guards and length in their frontcourt. Arizona is one of three Pac-12 teams with the ability to make it to the Final Four and cut down the nets in April. Arizona has some interesting games to finish off the season:

February 23rd – v.s. USC – W 84-72

February 25th – v.s. UCLA – L 82-86

March 4th – @ Arizona State – W 85-71

Final Record: 27-4 (16-2)

 

Arizona’s matchup versus UCLA on February 25th will be one of the games of the year! A top 5 matchups between two of the best teams in the country was a very tough game to choose. I give UCLA a slight edge on the road just because of how hot their offense has been all season. Arizona did edge out UCLA on the road earlier in the season and will look for the regular season sweep in this game! I would be shocked if Arizona is not in the second weekend of this year’s tournament with the talent they have.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 2

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 2

 

Oregon Ducks (24-4) (13-2)

RPI Rank: 6  BPI Rank: 13  AP Rank: 6

Best Wins: v.s. #2 UCLA, v.s. #5 Arizona, v.s. #22 USC

Worst Losses: v.s. Georgetown*, @ Colorado

 

After losing to Buddy Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners in last season’s Elite Eight, the Oregon Ducks got right back up and continued their college basketball dominance. The Ducks have been so successful because of the way Dillon Brooks (15.4 PPG, 43.3 3P%) has played this season. Brooks missed a chunk of games at the beginning of the season, ultimately leading to two losses by Oregon to Baylor and Georgetown. Brooks is capable of dropping 30-40 points anytime he is on the court and is this Oregon’s team fire. He gets everyone else going and gets everybody fired up. Oregon, with wins in their next three games and a loss by Arizona, can clinch their second straight Pac-12 title:

February 22nd – @ California – W 74-64

February 25th – @ Stanford – W 78-73

February 4th – @ Oregon State – W 81-65

Final Record: 27-4 (16-2)

 

Oregon will be on the road for the rest of the season and look dialed in for the NCAA Tournament all ready. They will be one of the favorites to win the Pac-12 tournament and March Madness. Oregon is a very dangerous team and definitely a team you do not want to run into come time for the tournament!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 1

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 2

 

UCLA Bruins (24-3) (11-3)

RPI Rank: 18  BPI Rank: 12  AP Rank: 5

Best Wins: @ #1 Kentucky, v.s. #5 Oregon, v.s. USC

Worst Losses: @ USC

 

Remember last season when UCLA finished 15-17 and there were talks about Steve Alford getting fired? Well UCLA gave Coach Alford a second chance and he has turned this UCLA basketball team into the contenders they are used to being. Freshman sensation, Lonzo Ball (15.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 7.6 APG), has been an absolute stud this season and has been the most talked about college basketball player all season! Lonzo Ball has been in the spotlight since his first practice at UCLA and it doesn’t seem to bother him at all. Guaranteed to be one of, if not, the top pick in the draft this summer, Lonzo Ball does not want to settle for anything less than a National Championship for UCLA. Here is what is left for Ball and the Bruins:

February 23rd – @ Arizona State – W 87-75

February 25th – @ Arizona – W 86-82

March 1st – v.s. Washington – W 81-70

March 4th – v.s. Washington State – W 94-71

Final Record: 28-3 (15-3)

 

I am all-in on the Bruins this season. I did not initially think this UCLA team would be great, but they have exceeded my expectations and could become legendary in a few months. Not only do they lead the nation in scoring (92.3 PPG), but they have 6 players averaging double figures per game. This is unheard of in the college basketball world and cannot remember the last time a team had 6 players averaging double-digit scoring per game for the season. One of the first things I will do when the March Madness brackets go up is pencil UCLA into the Final Four. This UCLA team is doing things we have never seen before in College Basketball and would not shock the nation if they are in a dogpile at midcourt in Arizona!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 3

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 3

 

California Golden Bears (18-8) (9-5)

RPI Rank: 39  BPI Rank: 47  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: @ #25 USC, v.s. Utah, v.s. Princeton*

Worst Losses: v.s. San Diego St.*, @ Stanford

 

California is currently on the bubble this year after making the NCAA Tournament last season as a 4-seed. Led by one of the best players in the Pac-12, Ivan Rabb (14.8 PPG, 10.7 RPG), the Golden Bears are currently 18-8. The reason Cal is a bubble team and not a lock at this point is because they do not have a signature win this year. A win at USC is decent, but they do not have a big win, partly because of their weak out-of-conference schedule at the beginning of the season. California may only have one more chance to get that big win in these final few weeks:

February 22nd – v.s. Oregon – L 64-74

February 24th – v.s. Oregon State – W 76-70

March 2nd – @ Utah – W 72-70

March 4th – @ Colorado W 74-64

Final Record: 21-9 (12-6)

 

If California does not pick up a victory against Oregon, then their fate will lie in the committee’s hands on Selection Sunday. The Golden Bears may need help from other bubble teams in order to be one of the frontrunners for one of the final spots in the tournament. There is still work to be done for California and they cannot afford a “hiccup” at the end of the season.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 4

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: First Four Out

 

USC Trojans (21-6) (8-6)

RPI Rank: 31  BPI Rank: 62  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. #8 UCLA, v.s. SMU, @ Colorado

Worst Losses: v.s. California, @ Utah

 

USC should be very pleased with back-to-back 20-win seasons. Andy Enfield has done a remarkable job rebuilding this Trojans’ basketball program into a powerhouse in the Pac-12. USC will be making it back to the NCAA tournament this season and could be troublesome for some teams. The Trojans may only have one big win over UCLA, but they are to not be overlooked. USC is definitely a team that can make it to the second weekend of the tournament and pull off an upset or two on their way there. Down the stretch, USC should not struggle:

February 23rd – @ Arizona – L 72-84

February 26th – @ Arizona State – W 86-76

March 1st – v.s. Washington State – W 77-73

March 4th – v.s. Washington – W 87-73

Final Record: 24-7 (11-7)

 

USC has a chance to solidify their resume with a win at Arizona on February 23rd, but the Trojans are still in good shape without that win. Their final three games of the season should not be challenging and be three guaranteed wins. The Trojans are considered to still be on the bubble, but in my opinion, there is no doubt we will see USC in March!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 5

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 9

 

Utah Utes (17-10) (8-7)

RPI Rank: 91  BPI Rank: 58  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. #25 USC, @ Arizona State, v.s. Colorado

Worst Losses: v.s. San Francisco*, @ Oregon State, @ Stanford

 

At this point in the season, I do not see Utah being able to get into the tournament. Their most previous loss to Oregon State pretty much popped the Utes’ bubble. Utah does not possess any great wins this season and has suffered some bad losses that cannot be made up for in the final weeks of the season. Here is who remains for the Utes:

February 23rd – @ Colorado – L 77-83

March 2nd – v.s. California – L 70-72

March 4th – v.s. Stanford – @ 73-67

Final Record: 18-12 (9-9)

 

After the Pac-12 tournament, Utah will have 13 losses and will fail to make the NCAA Tournament. Utah will most likely be in the NIT Tournament and could make a run in that tournament, but overall, this season is kind of disappointing for the Utes. See you next year Utah!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 6

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Next Four Out

 

Arizona State Sun Devils (13-15) (6-9)

RPI Rank: 131  BPI Rank: 181  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. Colorado, @ San Diego State

Worst Losses: v.s. Northern Iowa*, v.s. Davidson*, v.s. Washington State

 

After finishing 15-17 last season, there was a lot of potential for the Sun Devils heading into this season. Their program had seemed to take a step in the right direction last season, but this season they have come to a standstill. Arizona State is currently 13-15 and could potentially finish 15-17 again this season. Arizona State’s final three games in the Pac-12 are brutal:

February 23rd – v.s. UCLA – L 75-87

February 26th – v.s. USC – L 76-86

March 4th – v.s. Arizona – L 71-85

Final Record: 13-18 (6-12)

 

It will take a few years for Arizona State to get to where they want, but there are still some issues within this basketball program that need to be addressed before the Sun Devils go anywhere. These next few years should be interesting for this Arizona State basketball program.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 8

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Next Next Next Four Out

 

Colorado Buffaloes (16-12) (6-9)

RPI Rank: 101  BPI Rank: 90  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. #22 Texas*, v.s. #13 Xavier, v.s. #10 Oregon

Worst Losses: v.s. Colorado State, @ BYU, @ Washington State

 

Colorado started Pac-12 play 10-3, and then lost their first seven conference games. This ultimately ended Colorado’s tournament hopes. Colorado has been playing some solid basketball these past few weeks, but they turned it on too late in the season. Colorado will most likely go to the NIT Tournament and look to make noise there. Colorado can add to their win total in their final few games of the season:

February 23rd – v.s. Utah – W 83-77

March 2nd – v.s. Stanford – W 76-70

March 4th – v.s. California – L 64-74

Final Record: 18-13 (8-10)

 

Colorado is still on the bubble for the tournament, but their chances at this point in the season are very low. They have no more chances to pick up another big win in the regular season. Unless they make a run in the Pac-12 tournament, Colorado will miss the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 7

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Four Out

 

Stanford Cardinal (13-13) (5-9)

RPI Rank: 65  BPI Rank: 131  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. Seton Hall*, v.s. California, v.s. Utah

Worst Losses: v.s. Arizona State, @ Arizona State, v.s. Colorado

 

Stanford has not made the NCAA Tournament since the 2013-14 season and will miss the tournament once again this year. Jerod Haase, Stanford’s new coach, has put together a solid season in his first season as head coach, but there is a lot of work left to do with this Stanford program. All does not look bright for Stanford down the stretch:

February 22nd – v.s. Oregon State – W 74-70

February 25th – v.s. Oregon – L 73-78

March 2nd – @ Colorado – L 70-76

March 4th – @ Utah – L 67-73

Final Record: 14-16 (6-12)

 

Stanford has a lot of things to figure out moving forward as a program. They have found their new head coach, but now need to find players he can work with. These next few years may not be great for Stanford.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 9

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Next Next Next Next Four Out

 

Washington State Cougars (12-15) (5-10)

RPI Rank: 153  BPI Rank: 244  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: @ Arizona State, v.s. Colorado, v.s. Arizona State

Worst Losses: v.s. San Jose State, v.s. Loyola-Chicago*, @ Stanford

 

Well, Washington State only had 9 wins lasts season and now have 12 currently. There is a slight improvement with the Cougars this season, but overall, Washington State is not a good basketball program. I do not have faith in Washington State moving forward in future:

February 26th – v.s. Washington – W 76-70

March 1st – @ USC – L 73-77

March 4th – @ UCLA – L 71-94

Final Record: 13-17 (6-12)

 

Washington State has a lot to work on in the offseason because they are nowhere close to making the NCAA Tournament. Luckily for the Cougars, they have been getting slightly better so something is working!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 10

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Next Next Next Next Four Out

 

Washington Huskies (9-18) (2-13)

RPI Rank: 203  BPI Rank: 191  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. Colorado

Worst Losses: v.s. Yale, v.s. Washington State, @ Stanford

 

Even with this this year’s potential #1 overall draft pick in Markelle Fultz (23.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 5.9 APG), the Huskies have had a terrible year. After barely missing the tournament last season, they are nowhere near making the tournament this season. Lorenzo Romar’s job may be in jeopardy this offseason with the regression of this program:

February 26th – @ Washington State – L 70-76

March 1st – @ UCLA – L 70-81

March 4th – @ USC – L 73-87


Final Record: 9-21 (2-16)

 

The only good thing about this Washington Basketball program is their 2017 recruits. With the nation’s #1 recruit, Michael Porter Jr., coming to town, along with 3 other 4-star recruits, Washington may be able to turn things around quickly. With Romar’s job on the line, next season could determine his fate as the head coach for Washington.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 11

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Behind Lipscomb

 

Oregon State Beavers (5-23) (1-14)
RPI Rank: 286  BPI Rank: 282  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. Utah

Worst Losses: Their whole season

 

Oregon State was a tournament team last season, but this season, they may be the worst Division I basketball team. Oregon State was just dreadful to watch this year and could be painful to watch as they finish their season:

February 22nd – @ Stanford – L 70-74

February 24th – @ California – L 70-76

March 4th – v.s. Oregon – L 65-81

Final Record: 5-26 (1-17)

 

There really isn’t anything positive to say about Oregon State basketball. They are probably the worst team in college basketball this season and are not good.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 12

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Behind Niagara

 

So What Will The Conference Tournament Look Like?

Even though there are three teams competing for the Pac-12 tournament title, this year’s Pac-12 tournament could be intriguing to watch. Some of this year’s top draft prospects, such as Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and Lauri Markkanen, will be putting on a show. Whether Oregon, Arizona, or UCLA make the final to play each other, the final few games in the tournament could be a preview of two Final Four teams this year. It is called the Conference of Champions, so let’s see who I have being the Pac-12’s champion this year:

 

First Round:

Arizona State 66 v.s. Stanford 72

USC 77 v.s. Oregon State 63

Colorado 75 v.s. Washington State 70

Utah 74 v.s. Washington 65

 

Quarterfinals:

Oregon 84 v.s. Stanford 66

California 71 v.s. USC 75

Arizona 78 v.s. Colorado 60

UCLA 93 v.s. Utah 77

 

Semifinals:

Oregon 76 v.s. USC 66

Arizona 82 v.s. UCLA 77 F/OT

 

Championship:

Oregon 73 v.s. Arizona 78

Champions: Arizona Wildcats

 

NCAA Tournament Seeding After Conference Tournament (Based on Predictions):

Oregon Ducks (29-5): #2

Arizona Wildcats (30-4): #2

UCLA Bruins (29-4): #3

California Golden Bears (21-10): First Four Out

USC Trojans (26-8): #9

Utah Utes (19-13): Next Next Four Out

Colorado Buffaloes (19-14): Next Four Out

Arizona State Sun Devils (13-19): Next Next Next Next Four Out

Stanford Cardinal (15-17): Next Next Next Next Next Four Out

Washington State (13-18): Next Next Next Next Next Four Out

Washington Huskies (9-22): Next Next Next Next Next Next Next Next Next Four Out

Oregon State Beavers (5-27): Next ^19 Four Out

 

After an exciting end to the Pac-12 Tournament, I have projected only 4 Pac-12 teams to make the NCAA Tournament. It has been a disappointing season for the conference as a whole, but the Pac-12 does contain three of the best teams in the country. Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon can all contend for a title in March and who knows, maybe the worst conference will bring home a title. They do not call the Pac-12 the “Conference of Champions” for nothing! Thanks for reading my Bracketology Previews and be sure to check out the other articles in case you missed one!

 

Brett Siegel

The Ville ‘ 20

(photo from pac-12.com)

Brett Siegel
I am currently a sophomore at The University of Louisville, majoring in Sports Administration and minoring in Communication. This is my second year being the lead NBA Draft Analyst for CPP and writer for Louisville Basketball. I am a huge sports fan that loves college basketball and watching the players transition from the college court to the big stage in the NBA! If you have any questions or comments, my email is bsiegelsports@gmail.com.

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