With the upcoming conference tournament, instead of power ranking the teams on past play, I take a shot at power ranking the teams in terms of who has the best chance of winning the tournament. As a reminder, here is a look at the Pac-12 bracket.
1. Oregon (25-6) (14-4)
The Ducks are certainly the team to beat heading into the tournament after solidifying the number one seed with back-to-back wins over the Southern California schools. Oregon boasts a combined 3-1 record against potential opponents Washington, Stanford, and Arizona on their side of the bracket before the finals.
2. Arizona (24-7) (12-6)
Although the Wildcats are the fourth seed in the tournament, I have them as the second most likely team to win the tournament. The reason for this is the home court advantage that Arizona fans give their team in the tournament as they transform Las Vegas into McKale Center North. We’re in for a potential game of the tournament if Oregon and Arizona end up facing each other in the semifinals.
3. Utah (24-7) (13-5)
The Utes are coming into the tournament playing as well as anybody in the conference led by big man Jakob Poeltl. Utah swept the season series over both of their potential second round matchups. Utah against California would set up for a great matchup as the teams split the season series.
4. California (22-9) (12-6)
Favorable first matchup for the Golden Bears as they have a combined 3-1 record over Oregon State and Arizona State. Should be on track for a showdown against Utah to settle the 1-1 season tie. I like Utah in the matchup due to the star power of Pac-12 Player of the Year Jakob Poeltl, but the young Golden Bears are still very dangerous.
5. Colorado (21-10) (10-8)
The highest ranking of a team who has to play on Wednesday belongs to the Buffaloes. Should be a cupcake win over Washington State to set up a matchup against Arizona. The Buffaloes would head into that one with confidence as they won the only matchup of the season between the squads.
6. Oregon State (18-11) (9-9)
Surprisingly, the Beavers actually lost to their first round opponent Arizona State in the only matchup of the season. Regardless, I like the leadership of GP2 and see the Beavers having the potential for a run. Oregon State split the season series with California and Utah.
7. Washington (17-13) (9-9)
The Huskies matched up well with first round opponent Stanford earlier this year as they notched an 11 point victory. A second round matchup against Oregon could be a tough matchup. Be wary of senior guard Andrew Andrews who is coming off of a 47 point explosion against Washington State as he looks to get his squad into the NCAA tournament.
8. USC (20-11) (9-9)
Now losers of four out of the last five, the Trojans are coming into Las Vegas with zero momentum. The good news though is that they swept the season series with crosstown rival and first round opponent UCLA. The bad news on the flip side is that they lost the only matchup of the year to potential second round opponent Utah by double digits.
9. Stanford (15-14) (8-10)
Moving on from the category of “teams who can make a run” to “teams who will be lucky to win one game”. Stanford is scrappy, but I don’t see them winning the matchup with the Huskies in the first round. The Cardinal just don’t have enough athleticism to matchup with Washington. However, if the Cardinal advance they would head into the Oregon game with confidence as they played well in the two matchups this season, winning one.
10. Arizona State (15-16) (5-13)
Good finish to the season by the Sun Devils as they knocked off Stanford and fell to top-25 ranked California by just three. Although I see the Beavers winning the first round matchup, Arizona State won the only matchup of the year by 18.
11. UCLA (15-16) (6-12)
Going into the tournament off of four straight losses, the Bruins are another team I will be shocked to see get a win. Potentially the biggest motivation for the Bruins is playing crosstown rival USC who they already dropped both matchups to this year.
12. Washington State (9-21) (1-17)
After 16 straight conference losses, this one comes as no surprise. Colorado actually wasn’t a bad matchup for the Cougars this year as they lost by a combined 13 points. Regardless, any win by Washington State would clearly be the upset of the tournament.