UCLA Bruins favored to come out on top of Pac-12 Conference
Every sports bettor on the planet has a soft spot for the Pac-12 Conference, which consistently delivers must-watch action late in the evening. We’ll all get plenty more of that throughout the course of the conference tournament, as there will be quite a few games tipping off at 9:00 p.m. ET and later. This year, the UCLA Bruins enter as the favorites to win the tournament, but quite a few teams will be gunning for them — especially the second-seeded Arizona Wildcats. Keep reading for our darkhorse pick to win the tournament, a few players to watch and our best bet to ultimately hoist the trophy.
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How to Watch the Pac-12 Conference Tournament
When: March 8-11
Where: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada
Format: Seeding based on winning percentage in conference play; top-four seeds get byes into the quarterfinals
Watch: Pac-12 Network, ESPN; Championship Game on ESPN on Mar. 11 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Pac-12 Conference Tournament Bracket
Pac-12 Conference Tournament Seeds, Teams and Odds
1. UCLA Bruins (+110)
2. Arizona Wildcats (+210)
3. USC Trojans (+800)
4. Oregon Ducks (+1200)
5. Arizona State Sun Devils (+1500)
6. Washington State Cougars (+2000)
7. Utah Utes (+2500)
8. Washington Huskies (+10000)
9. Colorado Buffaloes (+4000)
10. Stanford Cardinal (+10000)
11. Oregon State Beavers (+50000)
12. California Golden Bears (+50000)
Favorite To Win Pac-12 Conference Tournament
UCLA enters this tournament as the favorite, with the Bruins hoping to win this thing for the first time since 2014. And while UCLA did make a run to the Final Four in 2021, this is the best Bruins team we’ve seen under head coach Mick Cronin. In 2021, UCLA was 11th in the nation in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency and 46th in adjusted defensive efficiency. This year’s squad is 24th in offense and second in defense, which is good for the second-best adjusted efficiency margin in all of college basketball. The team is also fifth in VSiN’s effective strength rankings. The Bruins have some familiar faces from that 2021 team, with Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell being the leaders of this year’s group. The Bruins also have a stud in freshman Amari Bailey, who is a versatile offensive player with an NBA future. Bailey will need to step it up with Jaylen Clark out for the tournament. This team is talented and plays the right way, so it will be a tough bunch to eliminate.
Pac-12 Conference Tournament Darkhorse
Oregon’s record might be pretty damn lousy, but the Ducks have strong offensive efficiency numbers and they’re solid on the defensive end. This team also has a 19-point win over Arizona on its resume, and it’s just hard to ignore that when you also factor in that Dana Altman is one of the best head coaches in this conference. Oregon also happens to have a trustworthy veteran that runs the show on offense, as Will Richardson is averaging 12.5 points, 5.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. He makes good decisions with the ball in his hands and he can also shoot it from deep. On top of that, the Ducks have a big presence in the paint, as N’Faly Dante is averaging 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game this season. This is a balanced group that is capable of making some noise in Vegas.
Players to Watch in Pac-12 Conference Tournament
We already mentioned some UCLA players, but we’ll still start with Jaquez Jr. here. He’s arguably the best player in this conference, as he has the ability to impact the game in a number of different ways offensively. Jaquez’s footwork makes him nearly impossible to guard in the mid-post, so he’s a great safety net offensively for the Bruins.
For Arizona, the players you want to know are guard Kerr Kriisa, forward Azuolas Tubelis and center Oumar Ballo. Kriisa is a floor general for the Wildcats, but he also has the ability to hit big threes. He’s a tough player that loves to compete, and he’s exactly what you want at point guard in a tournament setting. Tubelis is a versatile big man that can beat you with finesse or power. And Ballo is just a massive body in the paint, with the ability to dominate games with his brute force around the rim. Arizona has a little bit of everything, which is why the team is so special.
There are a few other players we can shine a light on here, but one last one that we’ll bring up is USC’s Drew Peterson. The senior is a 6-foot-9 wing that can really shoot the basketball, but he has also turned into quite the passer for an off-ball player. If the Trojans are going to make a run in this tournament, it will have everything to do with Peterson’s play.
Betting Pick to Win Pac-12 Conference Tournament
Arizona has had some puzzling losses this season, but the Wildcats also have a couple of tremendous wins. Tommy Lloyd’s team already has victories over UCLA, Tennessee, Indiana, Creighton and San Diego State this season. The group is battle-tested after having won the Maui Invitational at the start of the year, and that’s just something that you can’t take for granted now that we’re back to playing neutral-court games. Arizona also just has a little more offensive firepower than UCLA this season, so it’s hard not to like the Wildcats if that ends up being the championship game in this tournament.
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