Pac-12 tournament preview: Arizona enters as the clear favorite

Pac-12 tournament preview: Arizona enters as the clear favorite

The Dagger will be previewing this week's marquee conference tournaments. Here's our look at the Pac-12 tournament:

Pac-12 Conference Tournament
Dates: March 10-14
Site: Las Vegas (MGM Garden Arena)
Top four seeds: 1. Arizona 2. Oregon 3. Utah 4. UCLA
Draw: Click here

[DraftKings: Play March Madness Fantasy​ College Hoops. $20 Entry. $20,000 Guaranteed Cash Prizes.]

Best draw: Oregon. Regular season results suggest Oregon and Utah both should want to prolong facing Arizona again as much as possible. If so, both the Ducks and Utes got their wish landing on the other side of the bracket. Of the two, Oregon would seem to have gotten the more favorable potential quarterfinal draw, facing either overachieving Oregon State or struggling Colorado. Utah is likely to face a Stanford team that collapsed late in the season but has the talent to play with the Utes.

Scroll to continue with content

Worst draw: UCLA. A potential semifinal against Arizona could be UCLA's path to the NCAA tournament, but just getting to that game won't be easy for the Bruins. Their likely quarterfinal opponent will be Arizona State, which finished the season winning five of its last seven including a 68-66 victory over UCLA a couple weeks ago. That's a tough path for a Bruins team that has the most at stake in the Pac-12 tournament of any team in the league.

Three players to watch:

• Delon Wright, G, Utah — The engine of Utah's offense needs to be more selfish in the postseason. He averages 14.7 points and shoots 52.2 percent from the field to go along with 5.3 assists per game.

• Joseph Young, G Oregon — The Pac-12's leading scorer is shooting a lower percentage this year as the focal point of Oregon's offense but he still propelled the Ducks to a 13-5 conference record.


• Stanley Johnson, G, Arizona — T.J. McConnell is Arizona's MVP, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is its most versatile player, but Johnson is the go-to scorer the Wildcats need when their offense stagnates.

Bubble implications: Surging Oregon has all but secured its bid. Sinking Stanford probably needs to win the automatic bid to make the field. That leaves UCLA, which owns a 3-1 record against those two and a home win against Utah but still has work to do to make the field. The Bruins (19-12, 11-7) almost certainly must win their quarterfinal against either Arizona State or USC to have a chance. Given their awful record away from Pauley Pavilion, they may need to upset Arizona in the semifinals too in order to feel secure.

Projected champ: The past two years, losses to UCLA have cost Arizona the Pac-12 tournament title. The Wildcats have a lot of incentive this season to avoid another loss to the Bruins or anyone else this weekend. If Arizona wins out, the Wildcats have a good chance to be the No. 2 seed in the West at worst or maybe even the No. 1 in the West if Villanova stumbles in the Big East tournament. Regardless, staying ahead of Gonzaga in that race is important because the Wildcats would likely have the crowd on their side were they to play a regional in Los Angeles.

- - - - - - -

Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!