March is here, let the madness begin!
UCLA enters the Pac-12 tournament as the #1 seed and regualr season conference champion.
If you told me that in November, December, or even following the Washington State loss I probably would have laughed at you.
It is no secret this season has been a rollercoaster for not only UCLA but all teams in the conference. Who shoud we expect to win the tournament?
It was believed by many Oregon was the best team in the conference and would almost run away with it, until they lost their final two games in conference by double digits to mediocre teams. They had their chance to win the conference outright but since former Bruin commit Dominic Artis got hurt they haven't been the same, even after his return.
Then we have Arizona, who is nationally perceived as the best team in the conference and the highest ranked. This is mainly because of two wins in December, the first over a very good Florida team and the second over Miami (FL) both ranked top-15 nationally. However, it is no secret Arizona was swept by top-seeded UCLA this year and they currently sit at 4th in the conference.
Well, how about Cal? The Golden Bears finished the season 7-1 with wins over Oregon, Arizona and UCLA. However their last game was a home loss to rival Stanford that got very ugly and included a brawl. Yes they boast the Pac-12 player of the year in Allen Crabbe and he is the best player in the conference when he wants to be, the problem is he doesn't always want to be. Cal has the easiest match-up of the first round playing the winner of Utah/Southern Cal whom they are 4-0 against.
Dare I say UCLA wins the Pac-12 tournament?
I'm not ready to make such a bold prediction. However I will say you should not be shocked if this does happen. UCLA boasts the most talented team in the conference with the highest ceiling for success in March. This team is very capable of winning 3 games in a row against teams they are very familiar with. The Bruins have played well in big game situations and they've stubled a few times along the way as well, see Washington State.
This is the most wide-open conference tournament the Pac-12 has had in recent years, and just as we saw in the last week of conference play anybody can be beat.
Expect to be entertained, it is Vegas afterall.