PAC-12 Game-by-Game Analysis of the Tournament

The bracketeers sure were kind to the PAC-12 this March, selecting six teams from the conference.  This is great news for the PAC-12, as they try to prove they are more than a football conference to the nation’s audience.

The six teams to make the cut were tied for second-most among conferences in the tournament.  Only the Big 12 had more teams in the tourney this year with seven.

Getting to the tournament is absolutely an accomplishment to be proud of, but the PAC-12 has a lot of work to do to gain the same respect these eastern market teams receive night in and night out.

Let’s take a look at each of the matchups for these six PAC-12 teams:

Thursday, March 20th.

No. 8 Colorado (23-11) vs. No. 9 Pittsburgh (25-9):

While Colorado is just ahead of Pittsburgh in seeding, no one will be surprised if the Panthers take down the Buffaloes.  Pittsburgh’s nine losses have come from undoubtedly tougher competition than most of what Colorado has seen all season.  While the Buffaloes did take down Kansas, their three losses to the University of Arizona give me reason to doubt they can handle the stingy Panthers team this round.

 

Thursday, March 20th.

No. 7 Oregon (23-9) vs. No. 10 Brigham Young (23-11):

This game may come down to which team decides to make a stop on defense.  Both teams are averaging over 80 points a game, while both give up over 70 a game as well defensively.  While BYU’s 23-11 season is respectable, with wins coming over teams like Gonzaga and Texas, Oregon’s speed three-point shooting ability should carry them through this matchup.  That and the loss of BYU’s strong guard Kyle Collinsworth from injury make their chances slim in my mind.  Look for a big game from Oregon’s Joseph Young in this game.

 

Thursday, March 20th.

No. 10 Arizona St. (21-11) vs. No. 7 Texas (23-10):

Of all the six PAC-12 games being played Thursday and Friday, look for this to be one of the closer and more entertaining games to watch.  If the Sun Devils want a chance in this one, Jahil Carson has to have one of his best nights.  Texas has beaten some of the proven teams this season, and aside from beating the University of Arizona, Arizona State still has a lot to prove to the nation.  If Carson and Jermaine Marshall can sync Thursday night, the Sun Devils can send Texas home with an early round upset.  Coach Sendek better have his boys ready to match up physically with Texas’ big men who take pride in their work down low.  Texas ranks 4th in the NCAA in rebounding this season, so 7-2 center Jordan Bachynski will have his hands full.  If ASU can take smart shots and trust Carson to run the tempo, this could be a signature win for the Sun Devil and coach Sendek.

 

Friday, March 21st.

No. 10 Stanford (21-12) vs. No. 7 New Mexico (27-6):

In what has been a respectable season for the Cardinal, they might have a tough time against a Lobo team that has been feeling it as of late.  New Mexico has found their stride since just before the New Year, and know how to score the basketball.  Stanford will have their hands full defensively, trying to contain New Mexico’s Cameron Bairstow and Kendall Williams who lead the team in points per game.  On paper, Stanford just does not have enough offensive power to keep up with the Lobos.  Look for New Mexico to take this one, but good luck to either team who wins, with Kansas awaiting a challenge in the next round.

 

Friday, March 21st.

No. 1 Arizona (30-4) vs. No. 16 Weber State (19-11):

Upset or not, the Wildcats are going to take this first round matchup.  I would like to think the Arizona Wildcats have the slight edge in this one.  While the Weber State Wildcats had a great season, which included winning the Big Sky conference tournament, this should be not much of a challenge for Arizona.  Forward Aaron Gordon and guard Nick Johnson are a fun couple of guys to watch when the Wildcats get rolling.  While this tournament is deemed “March Madness,” don’t hold your breath about some magic coming from this game.  This should be a good warm up game for Arizona before playing either Gonzaga or Oklahoma State.

 

Friday, March 21st.

No. 4 UCLA (26-8) vs. No. 13 Tulsa (21-12):

As of late, Tulsa has been on a hot streak, winning their last eleven games of the season.  The Conference USA championship win over Louisiana Tech catapulted the Golden Hurricanes into the tournament.  UCLA is one tough test however.  Ranking 12th in the nation in points per game, UCLA knows how to score quickly, and often.  This speed from the PAC-12 may be too much to handle for the impressive, but young, Tulsa squad.  Unless Tulsa can make critical defensive stops, or match the Bruin’s scoring ability, UCLA should take this one and get a solid win for the PAC-12.

 

Look for more than half of these PAC-12 teams to advance to at least the second round of tournament play.  With Arizona being the number one seed for the first time since 2003, I expect the Wildcats to represent the PAC-12 quite well, and possibly make a Final Four push this month.

With a strong showing from the conference, the media and nation may finally take note that these teams are not just skilled in football.  With competition from other power conferences like the ACC and Big Ten, the PAC-12 will have their hands full.  This is their chance to take the stage and flourish with the national media attention being provided.

Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson is a sophomore at Grand Canyon University.  Studying Sports Management, Adam is looking to work in broadcasting after graduation.  Adam is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota but has been in Arizona the past eight years.  Being from Minnesota, he is a hometown fan of all the Minnesota teams, especially the Vikings.  Sports have been a part of Adam’s life since childhood, and his passion for them has only grown over time.  He currently works in the Grand Canyon University Arena, where he does video work for many of the games and concerts.  You can follow Adam on Instagram and Twitter at @Mr_GCU.
The best email to reach me at is this one or preferably ajohnson99@my.gcu.edu

 

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