- The Pacific-12 Conference tournament will begin with three play-in games Wednesday, March 10, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. The the finals are scheduled for Saturday night
- The betting odds do not line up with the final regular-season standings. No. 2 seed USC and No. 3 seed Colorado are the betting favorites over No. 1 seed Oregon, which is playing well and is the livest of underdogs.
- See the seeds, bracket and full tournament preview below
The four-day Pacific-12 Conference tournament will begin with three play-in games Wednesday, March 10, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. The quarterfinals begin Thursday and the finals are set for Saturday night.
No. 2 seed USC (+200) and No. 3 seed Colorado (+220) are the slight favorites over No. 1 Oregon (+310), which won the disjointed regular-season with a victory at Oregon State on Sunday night.
2021 Pac-12 Tournament Odds
|USC Trojans (2)||+200|
|Colorado Buffaloes (3)||+220|
|Oregon Ducks (1)||+310|
|UCLA Bruins (4)||+500|
|Stanford Cardinal (6)||+1500|
|Utah Utes (7)||+2000|
|Arizona State Sun Devils (8)||+3000|
|Oregon State Beavers (5)||+5000|
|Washington State Cougars (9)||+8000|
|Washington Huskies (10)||+20000|
|California Bears (11)||+20000|
Odds from FanDuel on March 8.
The Pac-12 is projected to receive four bids to the NCAA Tournament, and nothing that happens here will change that unless one of the bottom-seven seeds wins the tournament in a major upset to claim the league’s automatic NCAA berth.
Most bracketologists project No. 23 Colorado, No. 24 USC, and Oregon to land in the 5-6 seed range when the NCAA field is announced Sunday. UCLA is projected in the 10-11 range, and even a first-round loss to Oregon State here would not cause them to drop out of the NCAA field.
UCLA, USC — and UCLA again — controlled their destiny during the latter stages of the regular-season race before Oregon peaked down the stretch to win the title, the fourth time in the last six seasons that the Ducks have either won outright or shared the title.
Oregon and Arizona have each won two of the last four tournaments (the 2020 event was cancelled), but the Wildcats are not eligible for the Pac-12 or the NCAA Tournament because of a self-imposed one-year ban for alleged program improprieties.
The More Things Change …
As has been its pattern, Oregon (19-5, 14-4) is hitting its stride down the stretch. The Ducks have won five in a row and 10 of their last 11, and victories over UCLA and Oregon State in the final two games of the regular season pushed them percentage points ahead of USC in the league race.
The Ducks played their final eight games in 18 days, the result of a pair Covid-19 work stoppages that limited them to one game between Jan. 9 and Feb. 4. Oregon lost to Oregon State on Jan. 23 after a 13-day pause and fell to Washington State Feb. 4 after an 11-day pause.
Since blowing off the rust, the Ducks’ only loss was a 72-58 loss at USC on Feb. 22, a game in which the Trojans scored 17 of the first 18 points and Oregon missed its first 12 field goal attempts. The Ducks played only one game apiece against USC and UCLA, and the UCLA game was moved from Los Angeles to Eugene when the league rescheduled some postponements.
Oregon attacking guard Chris Duarte is a top candidate for the league player of the year award. He is averaging 17.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game while shooting 53.3% from the field and 44% percent from three-point range.
The Ducks are 10-2 since point guard Will Richardson returned from preseason thumb surgery, and transfer forward Eugene Omoruyi (16.9 points per game) and LJ Figueroa (11.8) have added offense. Richardson had a season-high 22 points and made 6-of-7 three-pointers against Oregon State.
Colorado Also Finishing Strong
The Buffaloes (20-7, 14-6) have won seven of their last nine games, and their home sweep of USC and UCLA two weeks ago threw the league race wide open. Their most recent loss was to Oregon on Feb. 28
With a veteran group led by player of the year candidate senior guard McKinley Wright, Colorado beat USC twice decisively — 82-62 at home, 72-62 on the road — and split with Oregon and UCLA.
But the Buffs had some untimely stumbles that cost them a chance at the league title. They lost to three of the worst teams in the league, Washington, Utah, and California, despite being favored by at least 8.5 points in every game.
Wright is averaging 15.7 points and 5.7 assists with a 2.75:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He became the seventh player in NCAA history with 1,700 points, 600 rebounds and 600 career assists, and he is 17 points short of 1,800/600/600. He and Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez are the only Power Six players on the list.
Reserve forward and Tulsa transfer Jeriah Horne has worked himself in to a key role. Horne is averaging 11.5 points and 6.0 assists and has made a team-high 47 three-pointers while shooting 44.3% from distance. He had 34 points and 15 rebounds in the sweep of the LA schools while making 5-of-6 three-pointers.
Colorado is No. 12 in the NCAA net ranking, the highest-ranked Pac-12 team, and are No. 16 in KenPom in adjusted efficiency margin, one spot below USC. The Buffaloes are one of six teams that rank in the top 25 in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.
The Buffs lead the Division I with an 83.37% free-throw percentage, on pace to set a Division I record.
USC’s Herky-Jerky Finish
The Trojans (21-6, 15-5) had control of the league race after a seven-game winning but have lost three of their last six, including a dreadful defeat at Utah. USC completed a sweep of UCLA when Tahj Eaddy hit a last-second three-pointer for 64-63 victory in its regular-season finale Saturday, the only time the Trojans led.
Seven-foot freshman center Evan Mobley is the likely league player of the year, averaging 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds with 77 blocked shots. But he but he and Eaddy (13.8 points) are about the only offensive threats USC can rely on.
The Trojans are limiting opponents to 39.1% shooting from the floor and have a plus-8.0 rebound margin.
UCLA Skidding to a Stop
The Bruins (17-8, 13-6) have lost three in a row, one apiece to the three highest tournament seeds, and had trouble closing out all three games. They lost a 13-point lead to USC while playing without leading scorer Johnny Juzang, who suffered an ankle injury in practice the day before the game.
UCLA gave up a 15-2 run while losing a nine-point, second-half lead to Oregon and gave up a late 15-1 run in a 70-61 loss at Colorado.
Juzang is averaging a team-high 14.2 points per game, and his loss would cause problems.
No team other than the top four seeds has a chance here, so play the hot hand.
The pick: Oregon (+310)