Pac-12 Basketball Tournament Predictions: How Far Can The Runnin’ Utes Go?
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament started on Wednesday afternoon at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as 11 teams fight for the conference crown.
Only 11 of the 12 teams are participating in the Pac-12 tournament because Arizona placed a self-imposed postseason ban for NCAA violations.
Here is the Crimson Corner’s predictions for the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament.
Pac-12 Tournament First Round Predictions
No. 8 Arizona State vs. No. 9 Washington State – Wednesday, March 10 at 2 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Network
These two teams squared off just once this season back on February 27 with ASU picking up a 77-74 overtime win at home. Remy Martin hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sun Devils the win. The second game originally scheduled for March 1 was canceled. This game was Washington State’s last game they played so they enter the first round matchup 10 days between games. The Cougars have played the last six games without star guard Isaac Bonton, who was averaging 17.7 points per game.
Arizona State will have a chip on their shoulder coming into Las Vegas, coming off of a 98-59 loss to Utah on Saturday. If ASU can step up defensively and stop Noah Williams and Remy Martin plays the way he has for most of the season, the Sun Devils should pull out the win. Martin had just 8 points in the loss to Utah.
Game Prediction: Arizona State over Washington State
No. 7 Utah vs. No. 10 Washington – Wednesday, March 10 at 5 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Network
The Utes and Huskies split the regular season series, playing their two games almost two months apart. Utah won the first game at home 76-62 in their season opener on December 3. Washington picked up the split with an 83-79 win on January 24. Utah committed key turnovers late in that game in Seattle and Washington finished the contest on a 7-0 run.
Utah will have a chip on their shoulder going into the game but will also have a ton of confidence after a 39-point win over ASU to close out the regular season. If the Utes can clean up the turnovers and win the battle of the boards, they should advance to the quarterfinals.
Game Prediction: Utah over Washington
No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 11 California – Wednesday, March 10 at 8 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Network
As the old saying goes, “it’s hard to beat the same team three times.” In this case, it won’t be that difficult. Stanford beat their rival California both times this season by a combined 21 points back in early February. Cal is going through a rebuild while Stanford is looking to get some wins in Las Vegas to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Cardinal will have that in the back of their mind and will take care of business.
Game Prediction: Stanford over California
Pac-12 Tournament Quarterfinal Predictions
No. 1 Oregon vs. Winner of ASU/WSU (picked ASU) – Thursday, March 11 at 12 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Network
Arizona State played the Ducks just once this season back on February 11 in Tempe, losing to Oregon 75-64. Oregon is the regular season champs for a reason, this is a talented basketball team. They are playing their best basketball at the right time, entering the tournament on a five-game winning streak and 10 of their last 11. Their only loss between early February and now is to USC by 14 in Los Angeles. Oregon has defeated Washington, Arizona State, Arizona twice, Colorado, Utah, Stanford, California, UCLA and Oregon State.
The Ducks have too much firepower for Arizona State to handle.
Game Prediction: Oregon over Arizona State
No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 5 Oregon State – Thursday, March 11 at 3:30 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Network
The Bruins at one point were in contention for the Pac-12 regular season title coming off of a 76-61 win over Utah on February 25. They lost to Colorado and Oregon on the road before falling to USC in the regular season finale. Those three losses came against the three teams ahead of them in the seeding for the tournament. Oregon State was picked to finish at the bottom of the Pac-12 in the preseason poll but Wayne Tinkle has this Beavers team playing great basketball going into Las Vegas. They ended the regular season winning four of their last six games.
UCLA will be itching to get into the win column and I think that Oregon State’s Cinderella run will come to a halt on Thursday.
Game Prediction: UCLA over Oregon State
No. 2 USC vs. Winner of Utah/Washington (picked Utah) – Thursday, March 11 at 6:30 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Network
This game is more intriguing than what it looks like on paper. Utah has seemed to figure out how to stop Pac-12 Player, Defensive player and Freshman of the Year Evan Mobley. In the first meeting on January 2 in Los Angeles, USC picked up a 64-46 win but Utah trailed by just four points at halftime. Mobley finished the game with three points on 3-of-6 from the foul line and didn’t attempt a shot in 31 minutes, along with pulling down just five rebounds.
When they met in Salt Lake City on February 27, Utah beat the Trojans 71-61. Mobley was limited to 11 points and 8 rebounds but shot just 2-of-7 from the floor. He made seven of his eight free throw attempts. This game will come down to which Utah team will show up. The one that was impressive offensively shooting 48 percent from the field and put the clamps down defensively. Or the team that collapsed in the second half by USC’s role players.
I think the latter will happen on Thursday but it will be a close and competitive game for a No. 2 vs. No. 7 matchup.
Game Prediction: USC over Utah
No. 3 Colorado vs. Winner of Stanford/Cal (picked Stanford) – Thursday, March 11 at 9:30 p.m. MT on ESPN
The Buffaloes seem to have the Cardinal figured out in 2021. They swept the two regular season meetings with a 77-64 home win on January 16 and a 69-51 victory on February 11. Oscar da Silva had two great performances against CU, scoring 22 points in each contest. Colorado didn’t have a certain standout as the box score shows balanced scoring with impressive defense.
I think that’s the story in this matchup and Colorado will use their balanced attack to get to the semifinals.
Game Prediction: Colorado over Stanford
No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 4 UCLA – Friday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Network
One of the two matchups between Oregon and UCLA was canceled due to COVID-19. That was back in January. They recently met in Eugene on March 3 where the Ducks picked up an 82-74 win. Four players scored in double figures for Oregon, led by Chris Duarte with 23 points. He has the help of L.J. Figueroa, Will Richardson and Eugene Omoruyi.
UCLA is without their star player Chris Smith, who suffered a season ending injury earlier this year. I think that will hurt UCLA in this matchup and the Ducks will be punching their ticket to the finals.
Game Prediction: Oregon over UCLA
No. 2 USC vs. No. 3 Colorado – Friday, March 12 at 9:30 p.m. MT on ESPN
The height of USC could be a deciding factor in this game. Although it wasn’t an issue for the Buffaloes during the regular season as they won both meetings. They picked up a 72-62 win in Southern California on New Year’s Eve and an 80-62 victory in Boulder on February 25.
In a neutral setting, I have a feeling that USC will find a way to get the job done and get to Saturday’s title game.
Game Prediction: USC over Colorado
No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 2 USC – Saturday, March 13 at 8:30 p.m. MT on ESPN
The Ducks and Trojans played each other just once and it was a 72-58 USC win in Los Angeles on February 22. Tahj Eaddy had 24 points in the win. This game will be close and will be a great championship game but USC is full of talent and will find a way to win the game.
Game Prediction: USC over Oregon