Nov, 26 2011; Spokane, WA, USA; Oregon Ducks guard Devoe Joseph (34) drives the lane for a basket against the Washington State Cougars during the first half at the Spokane Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-US PRESSWIRE

Pac-12 Basketball deserves three bids

Before we get to the Pac-12 Tournament, it’s time to take one last look at where the teams in the Pac-12 stand. This is a three-bid conference, because the Pac-12 isn’t as bad as the biased east-coast fans think it is- or, worse yet, the MWC fans. When the Pac-12 teams are done cutting eachother’s throats in conference play, they end up playing well in the tournament. One team ends up going deep, while the other teams get bounced out by eventual Final Four teams (like last year when USC was knocked out by VCU). Washington, Cal, and Oregon are three legit tournament teams, and it’s time to see past “The Pac-12 Sucks” mantra and actually look at the guys playing. UW and Cal are locks, and you can’t look at the non-conference season with Oregon. They are a much different and better team with Devoe Joseph, and it’s time to stop listening to what the mainstream media says about this conference. They may not have quality wins and such, but they have three teams that deserve a shot in the NCAA Tournament. Let’s get to it.

1. Washington

I didn’t get to do one of these power rankings things last week due to server issues, but the Huskies would have been first. I was kind of foreshadowing a jump from this talented squad that was starting to put it together and finally has put all the pieces in place. For all the shots that Lorenzo Romar took earlier this season, his squad won the conference, despite losing to a surprisingly motivated UCLA squad. Cal blew it at the end against rivals Stanford, but the Huskies definitely deserve to win. They have the talented, and now they have the quality of play to back up their top spot. Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross are a top, enviable tandem, and Ross looks poised for a huge postseason. This team will do some damage in the NCAA Tournament, because things are starting to come together for the oft-hated Dawgs.

2. California

Wow, Mike Montgomery and the efficient Golden Bears tripped up against the Cardinal and lost the conference. All is not bad for the Bears, because the Huskies were the better team anyway. Even though they got killed by Oregon, they easily subdued pretty much every other team in the conference over the past couple of weeks. Cal has the undeserving Pac-12 Player of the Year in Jorge Gutierrez. Although he is a talented player, there were a couple of other guys in the conference who did better than Gutierrez. You can’t complain too much though, and Cal will be able to win at least one game in the NCAA Tournament. They play solid defense and efficient offense, and they could very well make it to the Sweet 16.

3. Oregon

This team has some major upside. The Ducks have been an NCAA Tournament-quality team ever since Devoe Joseph joined the squad, but this team is more than just Joseph. E.J. Singler is a leader and one of the top ten, to Joseph’s top three, player’s in the conference. Garrett Sim is easily the Pac-12’s best shooter and is also one of the best 15 players in the Pac-12, while Tony Woods is the team’s rugged interior presence and plays great defense. Back-up point guard Jonathan Lloyd is a quiet role player off the bench who supplies a steady feed of quick hands on defense and unselfish passing on offense. Olu Ashaolu has that “wow” factor with his dunks and can add solid rebounding. Carlos Emory is the spark off the bench who can score ten points in a matter of minutes when on a hot streak, and rugged veterans Jeremy Jacob and Tyrone Nared are two key pieces to the Ducks defense.

All three of these teams have the potential to do some damage in the NCAAs, with Cal and Washington being locks for the NCAA Tournament. Oregon is in the thick of the bubble race, but they should definitely be in if they make it to the semi-finals of the Pac-12 Tournament. The Ducks are definitely more consistent and better overall than the Wildcats and Buffaloes, and they are among the most underrated teams in the country. People take in record and non-conference play into account too much when looking at Oregon, because adding a player like Joseph completely changes the outlook of a team.

The Huskies are undoubtedly the most talented team in the conference, and none of the “bigger” teams in the tourney should sleep on, or look down on them. I can’t wait to see another pompous MWC team get thrashed by a Pac-12 team, and I hope the Oregon Ducks are in as a third team from the conference. They have the talent, role players, coach, system, and efficiency to make it in. Again, the Pac-12’s best teams shouldn’t be viewed as terrible because of the bottom-feeders in the conference. If Oregon gets the bid they deserve, then they will show the nation why they deserved it. All told, it’s going to be a nail-biting affair for Ducks fans. I just hope a team from our conference makes it far into the tournament, even if it ends up being those Huskies.

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Tags: Basketball Carlos Emory Devoe Joseph E.J. Singler Garrett Sim Jeremy Jacob Jonathan Lloyd Jorge Gutierrez Lorenzo Romar NCAA Tournament Olu Ashaolu Pac-12 Terrence Ross Tony Woods Tony Wroten Tyrone Nared

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