Pac-12 men's basketball tournament: Devils, others must run table in Vegas

Starting today, teams must 'Wynn' out or NCAA hopes a 'Mirage'
2013-03-13T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:56:12Z Pac-12 men's basketball tournament: Devils, others must run table in VegasPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 13, 2013 12:00 am  • 

LAS VEGAS - Thousands of pilgrims come here each day, searching for a life-changing run of luck.

Today, about 100 of them - grouped into seven squads, wearing different colors - will seek the same.

All but one of the eight teams that will play the first day of the Pac-12 tournament know the only way to reach the Big Dance is to rattle off four consecutive wins at the league's new home, the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Except for Colorado, all lack a résumé to entice the NCAA tournament selection committee Sunday, and need the automatic bid that comes with winning the conference tournament.

"I think that we've got to, somehow, get some wind in our sails," Arizona State forward Jonathan Gilling said Saturday. "I don't know how we're going to do it, but we've got some great leadership right now."

The Sun Devils' 20-11 record this season belies their RPI of 91, a figure more suited for the NIT than the Big Dance.

Coach Herb Sendek agreed Saturday, saying that "in all likelihood" ASU, losers of its last three and the No. 9 seed, would need to run the table this week to earn a NCAA tournament bid.

He pledged "every drop of sweat that we have" would be put toward today's game against No. 8 Stanford.

"We've got to show tremendous heart and regroup," he said, "and get ready for our Pac-12 tournament."

That doesn't ensure a long stay in Las Vegas.

As the saying goes, the city's marvelous casinos were built on the backs of the losing gambler.

The Cardinal, fresh off last week's win at Cal, also seeks a run of luck. As does No. 12 seed Oregon State, which will try to defeat the fifth-seeded Buffaloes today for the second time in five days.

Colorado, burned by the NCAA tournament committee in 2011, would feel more comfortable with at least one more win. The Buffaloes' RPI of 36, however, leaves them safe, at least for now, to make the NCAA tournament.

CU received good news Tuesday, though, when forward Andre Roberson, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, was cleared by a doctor after missing the last week with a viral illness. He's expected to start.

While the Buffaloes - who would play the Arizona Wildcats Thursday with a win today - gained a forward, USC lost two big men.

USC lost at Washington State by 25 on Saturday and then suspended leading rebounder Dwayne Dedmon and little-used James Blasczyk after reports of a bar fight in Spokane, Wash.

And the No. 7 Trojans today must face No. 10 Utah, which just swept the Oregon schools at home.

In the tournament's nightcap, No. 6 Washington will look to, for the sixth-straight time, beat rival Washington State.

They all share the same pressure as Arizona State - get lucky, or go home.

"I think that we're going be OK," ASU forward Carrick Felix said Saturday. "I think we just have to find our identity at this time. …

"I think we'll be ready come the Pac-12. We just have to leave it all out there."

On StarNet: Join Patrick Finley at noon today for a live chat from the Pac-12 Tournament in Vegas live.azstarnet.com

Today's games

Stanford (8) vs. Arizona State (9)

• When: Noon (Pac-12 Networks)

• RPI: Stanford 65, ASU 91, per RealTimeRPI.com on Tuesday

• Streaking: Stanford has won two straight, ASU has lost four in a row

• This year: Stanford beat ASU on Feb. 9

• Key matchup: Stanford forward Dwight Powell (15.1 points per game) vs. ASU center Jordan Bachysnki (3.6 blocks per game)

• Cardinal odds: 66.2 percent to win today, 33.1 percent to win twice, 14.2 percent to win three times and 8.3 percent to win the title, per KenPom.com.

• Sun Devils odds: 33.8 percent to win today, 11.4 to win twice, 3.2 percent to win three times and 1.4 percent to win the title.

• The winner plays: UCLA (1) Thursday at noon. The Bruins are 55.5 percent to win Thursday, 23.9 to win twice and 14 percent to win the title.

• They said it: "Outside of that five that people think are already in the tournament, my vote would go to Stanford having probably the best chance of running the table." - Pac-12 Networks analyst Ernie Kent

Colorado (5) vs. Oregon State (12)

• When: 2:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

• RPI: CU 36, OSU 178

• Streaking: CU has lost one, OSU has won one

• This year: The teams split.

• Key matchup: CU point guard Spencer Dinwiddie (15.4 ppg) vs. OSU point guard Roberto Nelson (17.7 ppg)

• Buffaloes odds: 72.2 percent to win today, 26.9 percent to win twice, 13.8 percent to win three times and 8 percent to take the tournament, per KenPom.com.

• Beavers odds: 27.8 percent to win today, 5.2 percent to win twice, 1.5 percent to win three times and 0.5 percent of winning it all.

• The winner plays: Arizona (4) Thursday at 2:30 p.m. The Wildcats are 67.9 percent to win Thursday, 43.3 percent to win twice and 30.1 percent to win the tournament.

• They said it: "If the Beavers ever figure out how to play defense, they've got potential." - Kent

USC (7) vs. Utah (10)

• When: 6 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

• RPI: USC 105, Utah 175

• Streaking: USC has lost two-straight, Utah has won two-straight

• This year: USC beat Utah on Jan. 12

• Key matchup: Utah center Jason Washburn (11.8 ppg) vs. USC center Omar Oraby (1.5 bpg)

• Trojans odds: 57.3 percent to win tonight, 18.9 percent shot to win twice, 7 percent to win three times and 1.8 percent to take the tournament, per KenPom.com.

• Utes odds: 42.7 percent to win tonight, 11.5 percent to win twice, 3.5 percent to win three times and 0.7 percent to take the title.

• The winner plays: Cal (2) Thursday at 6 p.m. The Golden Bears are 69.6 percent to win Thursday, 37.8 percent to win twice and 15.5 percent to win the tournament.

• They said it: "If you're trying to figure things out that sidetracked you rather than coming in with your chest out trying to beat people … I absolutely think it's an advantage if you're rolling coming in." - Pac-12 Networks analyst Don MacLean

Washington (6) vs. Washington State (11)

• When: 8:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

• RPI: UW 89, WSU 181

• Streaking: UW has lost one, WSU has won two-straight

• This year: Washington swept two games.

• Key matchup: UW center Aziz N'Diaye (9.3 rebounds per game) vs. WSU forward Brock Motum (18.4 ppg)

• Huskies odds: 50.9 percent to win tonight, 18 percent to win twice, 7.6 percent to win three times and 2.2 percent to win the tournament, per KenPom.com.

• Cougars odds: 49.1 percent to win tonight, 17 percent to win twice, 7 percent to win three times and 2 percent to win the tournament.

• The winner plays: Oregon (3) Thursday at 8:30 p.m. The Ducks are 65.1 percent to win Thursday, 37 percent to win twice and 15.5 percent to win the tournament.

• They said it: "I happen to think it is hard to beat a team three times in a season." -MacLean

Patrick Finley

Contact reporter Patrick Finley at pfinley@azstarnet.com or 573-4145. On Twitter @PatrickFinley.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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