Pac-12 Bracketology: Final predictions ahead of March Madness

With two teams in the top 25, which Pac-12 schools will get their chance to go dancing in the big show? Which teams will fall short of an appearance in March Madness' main tournament?

Arizona center Oumar Ballo blocks a shot by Oregon guard Jermaine Couisnard as the Oregon Ducks host the Arizona Wildcats.
Arizona center Oumar Ballo blocks a shot by Oregon guard Jermaine Couisnard as the Oregon Ducks host the Arizona Wildcats. / Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA

It’s the final countdown (no, not the song by Europe) for Pac-12 basketball. As the conference nears its conclusion, the men’s basketball teams are pushing to get more than two teams in the big dance.

According to the AP Poll, Arizona has locked down its spot as the No. 6 team in the country. 

The Washington State Cougars have also cemented their place in the tournament, currently ranked No. 19.

So, who’s on the bubble watch? Which teams need to win out and perform best in the conference tournament?

The Pac-12 Standings:

Arizona and Washington State lead the conference as the 1-2 spots heading into March. The remaining 10 teams stand as follows:

  • No. 3 Oregon – 19-9 overall, 11-6 conf.
  • No. 4 Colorado – 19-9 overall, 10-7 conf.
  • No. 5 UCLA – 14-13 overall, 9-7 conf.
  • No. 6 Cal – 13-16 overall, 9-9 conf.
  • No. 7 Arizona State – 14-15 overall, 8-10 conf
  • No. 8 Utah – 16-11 overall, 7-9 conf.
  • No. 9 Washington – 15-13 overall, 7-10 conf.
  • No. 10 Stanford – 12-15 overall, 7-10 conf.
  • No. 11 USC – 11-16 overall, 5-11 conf. 
  • No. 12 Oregon State – 12-17 overall, 4-14 conf.

Pac-12 Tournament predictions:

As the conference standings sit right now, the teams with first-round byes in the Pac-12 Tournament are Arizona, Washington State, Oregon, and Colorado.

I expect Washington to upset Utah in the first round, knocking the Utes out early. I also expect Arizona State to easily handle Stanford, eliminating the Cardinal in round one. 

The Trojans and Beavers have struggled all season to find conference wins and that won’t change in the tournament. USC and OSU will lose Cal and UCLA when the tournament begins.

Arizona will most likely face Washington in the quarterfinals and I expect the Wildcats to squash the Huskies. The Cougars will play the Sun Devils if ASU wins and Washington State should easily walk away with the victory.

Oregon and Colorado have both had back-and-forth seasons. With unexpected victories and disappointing losses, they’re dark horses coming into the conference tournament.

Currently the third seed, the Ducks would face the winner of the No. 6/No. 11 game – which I have as Cal. Oregon recently lost to the Golden Bears so I expect them to be out for blood if the Ducks see Cal in the Tournament. Walking away with the win, Oregon will be heading to the Pac-12 semifinals.

Colorado has been on a shooting hot streak as the regular season approaches its end. Facing the No. 5 UCLA Bruins, who have had an extremely average season, won’t change that fact. The Buffs will continue to shoot lights out and defeat UCLA in the second round.

At this point, the semifinals would feature Arizona versus Colorado and Oregon versus Washington State.

The Ducks and Cougars have split their regular season games this year. Washington State has a 1-point advantage from the two games and is peaking at the perfect time. Meanwhile, Oregon has eked out wins and dropped some important games at the end of February.

I think Washington State will defeat Oregon to stamp its ticket to the Pac-12 championship game.

Colorado and Arizona may be the most exciting game of the tournament if it happens. The Buffaloes defeating the Wildcats could secure their bid for the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats walking away with the victory could secure them a No. 2 seed in the tourney.

With how dominantly the Buffs have been performing as of late, I expect the game to be extremely competitive and most likely go into overtime. However, after an OT period, I do think that the Wildcats will march their way into the championship.

I think expect the Wildcats to come out swinging against Washington State and demolish the Cougars.

With the conference regular season and tournament titles under their belt, the Arizona Wildcats would have a good argument for a top-two seed heading into the main dance, if not a No. 1 seed.

How to watch the Pac-12 Tournament:

Which Pac-12 teams will make the NCAA Tournament:

Winning the conference, Arizona will easily be dancing in March. Washington State will also see a bid for the main tournament.

Colorado and Oregon are on the bubble and at least making it to the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament is a must for both teams. If they fail to do so, I think the that Buffaloes and Ducks will find themselves in the NIT instead of the NCAA Tournament.

If either team can find a way to win the tournament, I expect them to earn their ticket to March Madness.

The remaining eight teams have fallen short of the big show. If UCLA and UW can maintain a record of .500 or better, the Bruins and Huskies will make the NIT. The rest of the conference currently sits below a 50 percent winning record and will fail to make the NIT or NCAA Tournament.

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