This is a part of the Arizona Daily Star's special edition preview of the Pac-12 Tournament that will be available for purchase on news racks around Southern Arizona Wednesday.
Chip Stack: 14-4 in Pac-12 play, 24-7 overall
Dealer: Sean Miller (244-73 at Arizona, 363-120 overall)
Hand: No. 1 seed
Draw: No. 8-seeded ASU/No. 9-seeded Colorado winner, Thursday
Jackpots: vs. No. 7 Texas A&M (67-64 win, Dec. 5); vs. No. 3 Arizona State (84-78, Dec. 30); at No. 25 Arizona State (77-70, Feb. 15)
Bad Beats: vs. NC State (90-84 loss, Nov. 22); vs. No. 18 Purdue (89-64, Nov. 24); at Colorado (80-77, Jan. 6)
Five-card Studs: G Parker Jackson-Cartwright, G Allonzo Trier, G Rawle Alkins, F Deandre Ayton, C Dusan Ristic
Ace in the hole: Alkins. In five of Arizona's seven losses, Alkins either didn't play (injury) or was inefficient, as he scored five points on 2-of-9 shooting in a Feb. 8 loss to UCLA, just a few days after going 2 for 11 in a 78-75 loss at Washington. As goes Alkins, so go the Cats.
Pocket Pair: Ayton and Trier. There may not be a better twosome in all of college basketball. Now that they're cleared to play — and angry because of the slights — the rest of the conference is on Defcon 1.
The Nuts: It's not even about Arizona playing to the best of its capabilities. The Wildcats can play at 90 percent — Or 80? Or 70? —- and run away from this field.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Chip Stack: 8-10 in Pac-12 play, 20-10 overall
Dealer: Bobby Hurley (46-45 at Arizona State, 88-65 overall)
Hand: No. 9 seed
Draw: No. 8-seeded Colorado, Wednesday
Jackpots: vs. No. 15 Xavier (102-86 win, Nov. 24); at No. 2 Kansas (95-85, Dec. 10); vs. UCLA (88-79, Feb. 10)
Bad Beats: at No. 17 Arizona (84-78 loss, Dec. 30); vs. No. 17 Arizona (77-70, Feb. 15); at Oregon State (79-75, Feb. 24)
Five-card Studs: G Shannon Evans II, G Tra Holder, G Kodi Justice, G Austin Witherill, F Romello White
Ace in the hole: Justice. When Justice is wheeling and dealing and being active all over the court, the Sun Devils put him to good use, as evidenced by the team's 4-2 Pac-12 record when he scores under 10 points. But when he's forced to become a scoring threat, the team comes undone. Though Justice averages nearly 12 points for the season, ASU is 3-8 in Pac-12 play when he scores more than 10.
Pocket Pair: Holder and Evans — the Pac-12's top backcourt scoring duo, Holder and Evans give the Sun Devils a 1-2 perimeter punch like no one else in the conference. In a short tournament setting, they could be a nightmare for opponents.
The Nuts: The Sun Devils have the non-conference resume, with two of the conference's marquee non-con wins, to prove their mettle. This is a plucky bunch that could reel off an upset, if Holder and Evans can seize the day.
Cal Golden Bears
Chip Stack: 2-16 in Pac-12 play, 8-23 overall
Dealer: Wyking Jones (8-23 at Cal, 8-23 overall)
Hand: No. 12 seed
Draw: No. 5-seeded Stanford
Jackpots: at San Diego State (63-62 win, Dec. 9); at Stanford (77-74, Dec. 30); vs. Oregon State (74-70, Feb. 3)
Bad Beats: vs. Central Arkansas (96-69 loss, Dec. 6); vs. Arizona (79-58, Jan. 17); at Utah (77-43, Feb. 10)
Five-card Studs: G Don Coleman, G Juhwan Harris-Dyson, G Darius McNeill, F Marcus Lee, F Justice Sueing
Ace in the hole: Coleman. When Coleman is on, the Golden Bears at least show some moxie. Coleman had 26 in a win over Cal State Fullerton and 35 in a narrow loss to Wichita State. He's also been entirely stifled at times, so the Bears need him to show up in Vegas.
Pocket Pair: Sueing and Lee. However underrated, the two team for one of the league's toughest inside tandems, combining for 25.7 points and 12.6 rebounds. Lee has been downright dominant in some games, and he is shooting 58 percent from the field for the season.
The Nuts: The Bears could be holding a straight flush, and someone would top them with a royal flush. Cal simply has no chance here. Well, perhaps one: At least Stanford, the Bears' first-round matchup, is one of two conference teams they've beaten.
Chip Stack: 8-10 in Pac-12 play, 16-14 overall
Dealer: Tad Boyle (165-95 at Colorado, 221-161 overall)
Hand: No. 8 seed
Draw: No. 9-seeded Arizona State, Wednesday
Jackpots: vs. Air Force (81-69 win, Nov. 26); vs. No. 4 Arizona State (90-81 OT, Jan. 4); vs. No. 14 Arizona (80-77, Jan. 6)
Bad Beats: at Colorado State (72-63 loss, Dec. 2); at No. 13 Xavier (96-69, Dec. 9); at Washington (82-59, Feb. 17)
Five-card Studs: G McKinley Wright IV, G Tyler Bey, G Dominique Collier, G George King, F Dallas Walton
Ace in the hole: King. Averaging double-figures for the third straight season, the Colorado senior is one of the most stable presences in the Pac-12, a steadying influence for the rest of Boyle's Buffaloes. He's averaging 13 points or more for the second time in three years.
Pocket Pair: Wright and Wright. The Wright Brothers may not actually be brothers, but they play like they're ready to take flight. On a team that lacks scoring punch, McKinley leads the team with 14.1 points per game and Namon is third with 10.5.
The Nuts: It feels like Boyle has had more success at Colorado, but he really hasn't, and it's fair to wonder if he's stalled. The Buffaloes finished 8-10 in conference play for the second straight year, and in 2014-15, they went 7-11. But, and this is a big but, the Buffaloes have beaten the Arizona schools this year, and King is one of the most reliable vets in the league.
Chip Stack: 10-8 in Pac-12 play, 20-11 overall
Dealer: Dana Altman (208-82 at Oregon, 616-324 overall)
Hand: No. 6 seed
Draw: No. 11-seeded Washington State, Wednesday
Jackpots: at No. 11 Arizona State (76-72, Jan. 11); at UCLA (94-91, Jan. 20); vs. Washington (65-40, Feb. 8)
Bad Beats: vs. UConn (71-63, Nov. 23); vs. Boise State (73-70, Dec. 1); vs. Stanford (96-61, Feb. 2)
Five-card Studs: G Elijah Brown, G Payton Pritchard, F Troy Brown, F Paul White, F Mikyle McIntosh
Ace in the hole: Pritchard. The Ducks' floor leader has been sensational but also has disappeared into oblivion at times, as well. Case in point: Pritchard scored five points on 2-of-8 shooting in a 34-point loss to Stanford and managed nine points on 3-of-10 shooting against the in-state rival Oregon State Beavers in a 12-point loss. Oregon needs the Good Pritchard to make an appearance.
Pocket Pair: Elijah and Troy Brown. The Browns play capable second-fiddles to Pritchard, combining to average 26 points, nearly 10 rebounds and more than 5.5 assists.
The Nuts: The Ducks have been one of the Pac-12's feistiest teams during Dana Altman's tenure — as proven by an Elite Eight run in 2015-16 followed by a Final Four berth last season. But Oregon is really going to need to pull it together to make some noise in Vegas. The team's 11 losses are the most since Altman's first season in Eugene, back in 2010-11.
Oregon State Beavers
Chip Stack: 7-11 in Pac-12 play, 15-15 overall
Dealer: Wayne Tinkle (56-69 at Oregon State, 214-158 overall)
Hand: No. 10 seed
Draw: No. 7-seeded Washington, Wednesday
Jackpots: vs. Colorado (76-57 win, Dec. 29); vs. Oregon (76-64, Jan. 5); vs. UCLA (69-63, Jan. 18)
Bad Beats: at Kent State (79-78 loss, Dec. 21); at Cal (74-70, Feb. 3); at UCLA (75-68, Feb. 15)
Five-card Studs: G Ethan Thompson, G Stephen Thompson Jr., F Tres Tinkle, F Drew Eubanks, F Seth Berger
Ace in the hole: Tres Tinkle. The Beavers' best player throughout his tenure playing for his father, Tinkle was sidelined by injuries in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. He's been 100 percent all year, though, and he's averaged an impressive 18.0 points to go along with 7.2 rebounds.
Pocket Pair: Thompson and Thompson. Sons of Oregon State assistant coach Stephen Thompson, the Thompson Brothers have been crucial to the team's fortunes this season, combining for 26 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.2 assists.
The Nuts: With Tres Tinkle out last season, the Beavers absolutely collapsed. With him back this year, they don't have a top-25 win. Wayne Tinkle just hasn't recruited enough talent to Corvallis, and even if OSU gets past the Huskies and even the Trojans, who await in the quarterfinals, the Beavers don't have the goods to go much further.
Chip Stack: 11-7 in Pac-12 play, 17-14 overall
Dealer: Jerod Haase (31-31 at Stanford, 111-84 overall)
Hand: No. 5 seed
Draw: No. 12-seeded Cal, Wednesday
Jackpots: vs. UCLA (107-99 2OT win, Jan. 4); vs. USC (77-76, Jan. 7); vs. No. 16 Arizona State (86-77, Jan. 17)
Bad Beats: vs. Eastern Washington (67-61 loss, Nov. 17); vs. Portland State (87-78, Nov. 26); at Long Beach State (76-68, Dec. 3)
Five-card Studs: G Dorian Pickens, G Daejon Davis, F Kezie Okpala, F Reid Travis, F Michael Humphrey
Ace in the hole: Pickens. A three-year starter who has averaged better than 12 points per game since his sophomore year, Pickens has blossomed even further this season, averaging 15 points per game while proving dangerous from long-distance. Pickens is shooting 43 percent from 3-point range this year.
Pocket Pair: Travis and Humphrey. Like Arizona, which boasts a frontcourt of Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic, the Cardinal have a dominating duo, too. Travis (19.6 points, 8.2 rebounds) and Humphrey (10.4 points, 7.0 rebounds) are a force for any team in the conference, one major reason Stanford enters the tournament seeded fifth.
The Nuts: It's one thing to have lost to No. 9 North Carolina, No. 7 Florida and No. 14 Kansas by a combined 66 points, which Stanford has this season. It's another thing to drop games to Eastern Washington and Portland State. When Travis and Humphrey are pounding the post, the Cardinal can pick off an opponent or two. But as it gets later in the tournament, Stanford will need more — perhaps more than it can get — from its backcourt.
Chip Stack: 11-7 in Pac-12 play, 20-10 overall
Dealer: Steve Alford (116-55 at UCLA, 578-289 overall)
Hand: No. 4 seed
Draw: No. 5-seeded Stanford/No. 12-seeded Cal winner, Thursday
Jackpots: vs. No. 7 Kentucky (83-75 win, Dec. 23); at No. 13 Arizona (82-74, Feb. 8); vs. Oregon (86-78 OT, Feb. 17)
Bad Beats: at Michigan (78-69 OT loss, Dec. 9); at Oregon State (69-63, Jan. 18); at Arizona State (88-79, Feb. 10)
Five-card Studs: G Aaron Holiday, G Prince Ali, G Kris Wilkes, F Gyorgy Goloman, C Thomas Welsh
Ace in the hole: Holiday. Overshadowed by some of UCLA's more high-profile recruits the last couple years, and, perhaps, by the one-year legacy of his older brother Jrue, the littlest Holiday has quietly improved perhaps more than any other Pac-12 player over the last three years. From averaging just over 10 points as a freshman to his current 20.1 points per game in the regular season, it's clear Holiday has come of age.
Pocket Pair: Welsh and Wilkes. Like the F&F Twins of Washington State, the upside-down M&Ms have been a force in the frontcourt for the Bruins. They combined for 26.7 points and 15.5 rebounds per game, with Welsh ranking second behind Ayton in rebounding in the conference.
The Nuts: The Bruins have some of the best wins in the conference this season, true veteran presence in Holiday and Welsh, and enough talent on the roster to advance far. But if Jaylen Hands, UCLA's impressive freshman point guard, stays out with a sprained ankle, the Bruins will need a lot out of their vets.
Chip Stack: 12-6 in Pac-12 play, 21-10 overall
Dealer: Andy Enfield (91-74 at USC, 132-102 overall)
Hand: No. 2 seed
Draw: No. 7-seeded Washington/No. 10-seeded Oregon State winner, Thursday
Jackpots: vs. Utah (84-67 win, Jan. 14); vs. Stanford (69-64, Jan. 24); at Utah (74-58, Feb. 24)
Bad Beats: vs. Oklahoma (85-83 loss, Dec. 8); vs. Princeton (103-93 OT, Dec. 19); vs. Washington (88-81, Dec. 29)
Five-card Studs: G Elijah Stewart, G Jordan McLaughlin, G Jordan Mathews, F Chimezie Metu, F Nick Rakocevic
Ace in the hole: Metu. Metu has been the Trojans' all-around best player, and their most reliable. Averaging a solid 16 points and seven rebounds for the season, USC can ill-afford Metu to disappear in the postseason.
Pocket Pair: McLaughlin and Stewart. McLaughlin might be the Pac-12's best point guard, and the duo contends for the league's best backcourt. McLaughlin is averaging a stellar 7.5 assists per game, and while Stewart doesn't produce quite that much, he has still been an important contributor for USC for all four years he's been there.
The Nuts: The Trojans have been a bit perplexing this season. They've got only six conference losses, good for the No. 2 seed, and most of those losses were forgivable — at Stanford by one, at UCLA by three, at Arizona State by two and at Arizona by 14. But USC really doesn't have one signature win on the season, and that stands out.
Chip Stack: 11-7 in Pac-12 play, 19-10 overall
Dealer: Larry Krystkowiak (133-95 at Utah, 175-115 overall)
Hand: No. 3 seed
Draw: No. 6-seeded Oregon/No. 11-seeded Washington State winner, Thursday
Jackpots: at Oregon (66-56 win, Dec. 29); at No. 21 Arizona State (80-77, Jan. 25); vs. Stanford (75-60, Feb. 8)
Bad Beats: vs. UNLV (85-58 loss, Nov. 23); at BYU (77-65, Dec. 16); at Colorado (67-55, Feb. 2)
Five-card Studs: Starters
Ace in the hole: Bibbins. Bibbins isn't the all-around stud that Kyle Kuzma was for the Utes, but he's more than held his own in guiding Utah to a third-place finish in the regular season. Bibbins averaged 14.4 points, 4.9 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, filling up the stat sheet on a regular basis.
Pocket Pair: Collette and Rawson. Averaging almost 12 rebounds per game between them — not to mention 24 combined points — Collette and Rawson have given Utah the bigs to compete with some of the league's tougher tasks. The Utes will need them to come up big come tourney time.
The Nuts: Krystkowiak and Co. peaked in 2014-15 with a 26-9 record, a second-place seeding in the Pac-12 and a Sweet 16 berth. Utah followed that up with a 27-win season the next year, another second-place finish, and an upward trajectory. But with just 39 victories combined the last two years heading into this postseason, the Utes need to get things back on track in a hurry. They don't quite have the juice to do it this year, though.
Chip Stack: 10-8 in Pac-12 play, 20-11 overall
Dealer: Mike Hopkins (20-11 at Washington, 24-16 overall)
Hand: No. 7 seed
Draw: No. 10-seeded Oregon State, Wednesday
Jackpots: vs. No. 25 Arizona State (68-64 win, Feb. 1); No. 9 Arizona (78-75, Feb. 3); vs. Colorado (82-59, Feb. 17)
Bad Beats: vs. Virginia Tech (103-79 loss, Nov. 17); at UCLA (74-53, Dec. 31); at Oregon State (97-94, Feb. 10)
Five-card Studs: G David Crisp, G Matisse Thybulle, G Jaylen Nowell, F Sam Timmins, F Noah Dickerson
Ace in the hole: Nowell. A year after Washington freshman Markelle Fultz was the No. 1 pick in the draft, Nowell has picked up some - not all - of the scoring load and delivered in a big way, averaging 16.0 points to go along with 4.0, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
Pocket Pair: Dickerson and Crisp. A thieving duo, Crisp has poured in 11.7 points and 3.1 assists, while also added 1.3 steals, while Thybulle has averaged 10.7 points while leading the Pac-12 in steals by almost two per game.
The Nuts: The Huskies have a solid 1-2 scoring punch and a pair of wins over the Arizona schools, both ranked at the time. If just one more scorer emerges aside from Thybulle, the only other Husky to average more than six points, Washington can find itself in a championship game matchup with, perhaps, an Arizona team it already beat this season.
Chip Stack: 4-14 in Pac-12 play, 12-18 overall
Dealer: Ernie Kent (47-73 at Washington State, 370-325 overall)
Hand: No. 11 seed
Draw: No. 6-seeded Oregon, Wednesday
Jackpots: vs. No. 21 Saint Mary's (84-79 win, Nov. 24); vs. San Diego State (93-86, Nov. 26); vs. Colorado (73-69, Feb. 15)
Bad Beats: vs. UC Davis (81-67 loss, Dec. 2); at Oregon State (94-62, Feb. 8); vs. Utah (77-70, Feb. 17)
Five-card Studs: G Vionte Daniels, G Malachi Flynn, G Steven Shpreyregin, F Drick Bernstine, F Robert Franks
Ace in the hole: Daniels. Having scored at least 13 points in eight games this season, it's clear that Daniels can share the scoring load. He enters the Pac-12 Tournament coming off a bad game - a three-point showing in a 25-point loss to Oregon State - but he had double-figures in three of the four previous games.
Pocket Pair: Franks and Flynn. The F&F Twins are two of the most productive players in the Pac-12, combining to average 34 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Franks is the more efficient of the two, and one of the most efficient scorers in the league, shooting 53 percent from the field, 85 percent from the free-throw line and 40 percent from 3-point range.
The Nuts: Plainly, the Cougars just aren't very good, and they certainly haven't moved the needle much during Ernie Kent's tenure. It's fair to wonder if his time is up soon. Even if everything goes right for Wazzu, the Cougs are not going much further than the second round.