[tps_header]If there is a basketball conference as unpredictable as any, it could very well be the Pac-12 conference.
In the Associated Press’ preseason rankings for the 2015-16 season, one would see just three teams from the Conference of Champions ranked in the top 25 – Arizona at No. 12, California at No. 14, and Utah at No. 16. Oregon was also right on the outside looking in.
Seventeen weeks later, those four schools remain the class of the Pac-12, but the order has changed significantly. The Ducks are now the highest-ranked team at No. 9, followed by the surging Utes at No. 13, Arizona slipping to No. 18 and the Cal Bears rounding out the AP rankings at No. 25.
The Wildcats hailing from Tucson swept both the regular season and conference tournament crowns a season ago. This go-round, the Ducks head into Las Vegas with the No. 1 seed. Can they win their fourth conference tournament title, first since 2013, and improve their seeding in the big dance?[/tps_header]
WORK LEFT TO DO
This is all pretty cut and dry. The ‘locks’ are getting into the NCAA Tournament with no questions asked, while the three with work left to would likely need to defeat one of the locks in the conference tournament to improve their standing.
The Arizona Wildcats are a perennial power. While they are not as deep as they have been last season, they have a trio of seniors leading the way – guard Gabe York, forward and Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson, and center Kaleb Tarczewski.
The California Golden Bears are one of the conference’s hottest teams. If not for a game they coughed up late on the road last week at Arizona, they’d be riding a nine-game winning streak into Sin City.
It’d be hard to pick a favorite in the bunch, but the Oregon Ducks have more the deserved that top seed in the conference tournament, posting a 8-3 head-to-head record against the other six schools on this page.
The Utah Utes are the other notable ‘hot’ team in this class, having won seven straight and scoring at least 70 points in six of those seven victories.
The Colorado Buffaloes, Oregon State Beavers, and USC Trojans would all greatly benefit their stock by winning at least two games in the upcoming conference tournament, the second of which would be taking down one of the ‘locks’ in the quartefinals.