Bumped - BN Eds.
As we head into the PAC-12 tourney, I thought it would be useful to look at how the PAC-12 season has played out and what teams still have to play for as they head to Vegas. At this point in the season, the motivation to play can be nearly as important as the the talent that each team carries.
Now that the standings are finalized, we know that UCLA'S will be playing the winner of ASU/USC on Thursday afternoon.
The Final PAC-12 Standings
|Seed||School||Conf. Record||Overall Record|
Arizona was the prohibitive favorite coming into the season and they have mostly performed as expected. They currently have a nation leading 38 game home winning streak, but they look more vulnerable on the road, with losses at UNLV, Oregon St, and Arizona St. Chrissorr went into detail on them in his earlier article, so check that out if you want a more detailed look at them.
Oregon is without a doubt the surprise team of the year. The media poll had them picked to finish 8th in the conference and after getting swept at the Washington school in the 2nd weekend of conference play, it looked like that prediction might not be too far off. Since then, they have been one of the hottest teams in the conference, winning 11 of 13 to finish the season. Paced by PAC-12 leading score Joseph Young, they are a team that will try to outscore you rather than shut your offense down and, with a thin front line, they are vulnerable against a bigger team.
What they are playing for: NCAA tournament. The Ducks likely in but can improve seeding with a few wins.
Utah looked to be a sure lock for the #2 seed with a shot at the #1 seed, but an end of the season collapse has bumped them to the 3 seed. As the tougher half of the most difficult road trip in the conference, they looked unbeatable at home until the Arizona game. They were considerably more mortal on the road, posting a 5-4 conference record on the road this season. Delon Wright is the team leader and my personal vote for Pac-12 player of the year. He makes every player on the court with him better, my measure of a truly great player. Jakob Poetl has been a surprise and is a legitimate condidate for PAC-12 freshman of the year.
What they are playing for: NCAA tournament. After losing 3 of 5, the Utes need to prove to the committee that the wheels haven't come off the bus.
Our team is well covered here, so I won't go too into depth on this. The thing that stands out most is the home/road split. Our Bruins are 9-0 at home in conference and 2-7 on the road. The key to the tournament is going to be whether we play like a home team or a road team on the neutral court in Vegas.
What we are playing for: NCAA tournament: The Bruins likely needs 2 wins to get into the dance or a disappointing trip to the NIT will cap off the season.
5. Arizona State
After dropping their first 4 games, ASU managed to right the ship, going 9-5 down the stretch to outperform the media poll expectations of 9th. They will go as deep as 10 with their rotation, something that will help them in the back to back format of the Pac-12 tourney. They will slow the game down and ugly it up to stay with a talented team, but will likely struggle away from Tempe.
What are they playing for: Keeping Herb Sendek's seat from getting any hotter. He may be safe for this season while outperforming expectations, but a few wins in the Pac-12 tourney and NIT would help cool things down for next season.
Stanford opened conference play strong, winning 6 of 8, but has struggled greatly down the stretch, dropping 5 of 7 to end the season. The Cardinal live and die with Chasson Randle, who has slumped mightily down the stretch, which can partially explain the team's late season slide. Michael Humphrey was giving them a late season bright spot, but after an ankle injury at ASU, his availability for the PAC-12 tourney could be limited.
What are they playing for: To stop the bleeding. Stanford desperately needs a positive finish to this year after the late season slide. They are likely still NIT bound, but could be bumped early with how they have been playing.
7. Oregon State
Oregon State is the other big surprise of the season. Wayne Tinkle has used everything at his disposal to drag the Beavers to this spot, including a rather liberal use of walk ons. He started all 5 walk ons in the final game of the season against Oregon to show his gratitude for their efforts this season. Gary Payton II is the heart of this team and has to carry them at times. Tinkle does a good job compensating for the lack of talent and will slow the game down to try to minimize the difference in athleticism. In Corvallis, this team is formidable. In Vegas, this team will likely not be around for long as they simply can't win away from home.
What are the playing for: A potential CBI bid. In Tinkle's first season, this would be a win for Oregon State.
This is Tyrone Wallace's team. Jordan Mathews has showed some flashes this season, but Jabari Byrd has been held back by injuries all year. This team can play defense, led by Wallace's shutdown ability, but it doesn't have the offensive firepower to win consistently. Even if they can get past the first round, an Arizona team that thumped them by 39 on Thursday waits for them in the 2nd round.
What are they playing for: The NIT. A win may be enough to get the Golden Bears in.
9. Washington State
Washington State managed to claw their way up to the 9 seed with a win over Colorado on the last day of the season, despite spending the majority in the Pac-12 cellar. This is largely a 2 person team, with DaVonte Lacy and Josh Hawkinson doing the heavy lifting. While not a particularly talented team, Lacy can light it up enough to make some waves on any given day.
What they are playing for DaVonte Lacy. While there are no postseason hopes, sending the senior Lacy out with another win or 2 would be a plus.
The Buffs are the most disappointing team in the Pac-12 this season. Expected to finish in the top 4, the Buffs have struggled with injuries and sub par pay. Josh Scott's season has been marred by injuries and Askia Booker has not been able to elevate his level of play. A good to decent team at home, they only managed 2 conference wins on the road. They have a shot against Oregon State but thing don't look good beyond that.
What are they playing for: To keep playing. The CBI could be in reach for Colorado with a win or 2.
Washington's season was looking solid until Robert Upshaw was kicked off the team. From that point on, things have gotten rough. The Huskies did pull out a nice win against Utah to end the season, but at this point this seems more like a blip on the radar than a substantial change.
What are they playing for: Next season. With the #11 recruiting class coming in, UW may be focusing on next season, which could be Romar's last if things don't improve in Seattle.
Andy Enfield has put up another one of his patented 11 wins seasons, which he will hopefully continue to do for the next decade. Jordan McLaughlin has been lost for the season, and without him, USC is left without a point guard. Honestly, this is a team that just doesn't have a chance.
What are they playing for: Who knows?
That is a basic PAC-12 reset as we hit the postseason. Feel free to chime in with you opinions and any predictions of which teams are going to lay eggs and which teams are going to pull the upsets.
Chrissorr is going to be putting out some tournament predictions later this week that are going to be UCLA focused.