March Madness is here! Today, a few of our writers will be giving their thoughts on the Pac 12 Conference Tournament.
#8 Oregon State vs. #9 Utah
#5 Arizona vs. #12 Washington
#7 Stanford vs. #10 California
#6 Colorado vs. #11 Washington State
#1 Oregon vs. #8 Oregon State/#9 Utah
#4 USC vs. #5 Arizona/#12 Washington
#2 UCLA vs. #7 Stanford/#10 California
#3 Arizona State vs. #6 Colorado/#11 Washington State
Who will win the Pac 12 Conference Tournament?
Aram: #1 Oregon (24-7, 13-5 in the Pac 12)
I’m betting on Oregon to take home the title and I’m honestly not too sure that’ll be close. Payton Pritchard is on a mission and he isn’t going to let anyone stop him. Oregon finished the season on a 4 game winning streak and are primed for a great Tournament.
Pat: #1 Oregon (24-7, 13-5 in the Pac 12)
I’m going chalk here with the Ducks, who look like the safest bet to make the final and ultimately cut down the nets in Vegas. With Payton Pritchard leading the way, the Ducks will be in every game, and as the season has progressed, his supporting cast has vastly improved. With a lot of question marks and up and down in the Pac-12 this year, the Ducks have been a constant at the top of the league and the best bet to win it all.
TJ: #2 UCLA (19-12, 12-6 in the Pac 12)
Remember when everyone including me was flipping out because UCLA took forever to name/find a head coach? Well sometimes good things come to those who wait cause this UCLA team has really rallied around Coach Cronin. Prior to Saturday’s close loss to USC the Bruins had won seven in a row. The Bruins now stand at 19 wins on the year and second in the PAC-12. This team is a good bet as any to win the conference.
Which team will be a Dark Horse Candidate to take home the title?
Aram: #7 Stanford (20-11, 9-9 in the Pac 12)
Believe in Stanford. Tyrell Terry is a phenomenal freshman guard and may very well be in the NBA next year. Spencer Jones is a sharpshooter from behind the arc and Oscar da Silva has been a beast in the paint for this Stanford team. I expect a few upsets from them in this Tournament.
Pat: #12 Washington (15-16, 5-13 in the Pac 12)
I’m also picking Washington as my sleeper, as their talent level is undeniable. Isaiah Stewart, Jaden McDaniels, and Nahziah Carter are the best front court in the conference, and while their sub-par guard play likely cost them several close games this year, Marcus Tsohonis has steadily progressed at point guard since being thrust into the starting role in January following Quade Green being ruled ineligible. They closed the season with some good wins, and with the talent they have, don’t be surprised to see Washington build on that momentum and make a run in the Pac 12 tournament.
TJ: #12 Washington (15-16, 5-13 in the Pac 12)
I’m taking Washington. Yeah they are last in the conference, but they’ve played some really good basketball as of late including a 35 point thrashing over Cal and a win over Arizona. The Freshman duo of Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels lead the Huskies this season and if McDaniels can string together some good performances, this team can compete with anyone in the conference. They may be down this year, but they are certainly not out.
Who is one player that NBA teams should keep an eye on?
Aram: Onyeka Okongwu, Freshman C – USC
There are so many NBA prospects in this draft including Payton Pritchard, Jaden McDaniels, Nico Mannion, Tyrell Terry, Tyler Bey, and so many more. The one I’m going to name is the TOP prospect and that is Onyeka Okongwu. He is a big for USC that has an unbelievable talent level. Okongwu is still so young and raw, but his shot from the line suggests that he will continue to develop his shot and become a one of a kind player. He is a top 10 prospect easily and should be considered in the top 5 this year.
Pat: Isaiah Stewart, Freshman C/F – Washington
Isaiah Stewart is a very intriguing prospect, as he has a throwback game that would’ve been perfect 20 years ago, but is a questionable fit for today’s NBA. However, Stewart’s incredible strength may make up for his lack of height at the center position, and he works so hard on both ends and has all of the intangibles. Stewart is a borderline first rounder, and a big March would go a long way in improving his draft position come June.
TJ: Nico Mannion, Freshman G – Arizona
Arizona Guard Nico Mannion has long been regarded as a fringe lottery pick this year. The red-headed point guard has some of the best confidence and poise of any freshman in the country. He is a smooth player who has a quick first step with the ball that can turn into a pull-up at any given moment. His stock is sitting pretty firm, but if you haven’t watched him yet you need to because he isn’t afraid of any stage.