The Pac-12 men's basketball regular season came to an end on Saturday night, and with that closure, the conference's championship tournament bracket is set for action this week at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Tickets are available to see the 12 teams in the Pac-12 fight it out for an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, which begins on March 14.
For four days, March 8-11, the league will put on 11 games in a single-elimination tournament that helps determine which teams get to keep on playing into March Madness. The Oregon Ducks and the Arizona Wildcats tied for the regular-season title as both teams finished with identical 16-2 records in conference play, but the Ducks secured the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament thanks to a head-to-head win over the Wildcats on Feb. 4 in Eugene.
The top four seeded teams in the tournament get first-round byes, so No. 3 UCLA and No. 4 Utah will join Oregon and Arizona on the sidelines Wednesday as the other eight teams in the league kickoff tournament play. The first four games feature No. 8 Arizona State against No. 9 Stanford, No. 5 California against No. 12 Oregon State, and No. 6 Southern California against No. 11 Washington.
The winners of the Wednesday games advance to Thursday's action against the top four seeds. The tournament is slotted, it does not get re-seeded after each round of play. Therefore, the ASU-Stanford victor will play Oregon on Thursday, and the Cal-OSU winner will play Utah. On the other side of the bracket, the Colorado-WSU victor advances to play Arizona, while the USC-Washington winner draws UCLA on Thursday night.
The two semifinal games are scheduled for Friday night, and the championship game will be played on Saturday night. The Ducks began the season ranked No. 5 nationally, and with a 27-4 record this year and a current No. 6 ranking, they remain the favorites to win the Pac-12 Tournament for the second year in a row and the third time in the last five seasons.
However, the Wildcats are also 27-4 and ranked No. 7 in the nation, and they will be looking to avenge that humiliating 27-point loss to the Ducks on the road last month. Factor in the fact that UCLA is 28-3 and ranked No. 3 in the country—the Bruins split their games against both the Ducks and the Wildcats, while also losing to the Trojans once—and in reality, any three of these teams could win the tournament championship, and it wouldn't be a surprise.
While the top three teams are all considered locks for the NCAA Tournament, three other Pac-12 teams are looking to impress the selection committee for March Madness. Utah, USC and California would benefit in the eyes of the nation by pulling off an upset or two in the conference tournament. The Utes benefit from having a bye, though, while the Trojans and the Golden Bears have that extra game to play on Wednesday and could suffer from fatigue when playing back-to-back games. That fatigue factor and the consecutive game days always make upsets possible in tournament play. March Madness is known for it, of course, but the Pac-12 Tournament could offer plenty of surprises for fans and experts alike, too.
Tickets for all six sessions of play are available online at AXS.com. AXS.com will also be providing comprehensive coverage over the next week for all Pac-12 men's basketball tournament action.Look for the upcoming tournament guide, a game session breakdown with predictions and previews for all 12 teams—in addition to game recaps and previews once the tournament starts on Wednesday. Check back frequently for latest updates!