Cal Basketball: What Are Our Pac-12 Tournament Odds?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12 Tournament begins in earnest in Las Vegas tomorrow. What are the odds the Bears can win it all?

Here's our bracket. What do you rank our odds in winning this thing?

LEastCoastBears: Despite not winning the conference or have the number 1 seed, the Bears' path in the Pac-12 tournament is actually fairly favorable. Bears swept both games from both Utah and USC (although a controversial move - the Monty shove was involved in the second of those wins). The potential semifinal matchup with Oregon is preferable over the more athletic Arizona, regardless of the old adage that it is tough to beat a team 3 times. Cal may also match up with a tired Washington team in the semifinal. While depth has always been an issue for Monty's Cal teams, Ricky Kreklow being back should help. More importantly, depth is also an issue for most Pac-12 teams this year, particularly UCLA with their 7 men (although all 7 of those guys are starter quality on any other team) rotation.

To put some numbers to my rather unscientific prediction, I would give the Bears 80% chance to win the opening game, 70% chance to win the second game, and then 45% to win the championship game (against Arizona) for a total of 25% chance to win the Pac-12 tournament.

A positive predictor in the Bears' favor is how they went 3-1 on the road (at the Arizona and Oregon schools) during the 2nd half conference hot streak. The Bears have shown the ability to win outside of Haas (in fact, one can make a strong case for the Bears not winning enough at home).

atomsareenough: Wow, that's our bracket? I like ours better than #1 seed UCLA's. That's not to say we're guaranteed any wins, but I like our chances pretty well. No UCLA, no Colorado, no Arizona, no Stanford unless we meet in the final. So, I'll take it. The only way I could've drawn it up any better considering the standings would be to switch USC for Washington... though on the other hand, we beat USC twice and lost to Washington during our worst stretch of the season. Anyway, If I had to give odds, I'd say we've got about a 40% chance of getting to the final and a 15% chance of winning the whole thing.

LeonPowe: Maybe winning the Pac-12 wasn't the best thing after all - look at how nicely that bracket sets up for a deep run. I would add, however, we could lose our first game or we could go all the way - this team has been pretty Jykell and Hyde with playing well and playing poorly. I'd give us a 40% of winning everything - I mean we are the #2 seed and honestly, Oregon has been playing like crap - so we'd have only the championship game (should we get there) to face UCLA or Arizona and that game is pretty much a toss-up.

FrankCohen: I think we received the best draw of any team in this tournament and that, combined with our recent hot play (besides the Stanfurd disappointment) and boost in depth with the return of Ricky Kreklow, makes us the favorites to win this.

Vincent S: There are a couple of permutations on Cal's side of the bracket that I didn't provide prior probabilities for, because I'm hoping they won't matter.


8. Stanford (70%) vs. 9. Arizona State (30%)
5. Colorado (90%) vs. 12. Oregon State (10%)
7. USC (80%) vs. Utah (20%)
6. Washington (75%) vs. 11. Washington State (25%)


1. UCLA (60%) vs. 8. Stanford (40%)
1. UCLA (65%) vs. 9. Arizona State (35%)
4. Arizona (35%) vs. 5. Colorado (65%)
4. Arizona (90%) vs. 12. Oregon State (10%)
2. California (60%) vs. 7. USC (40%)
2. California (80%) vs. 10. Utah (20%)
3. Oregon (75%) vs. 6. Washington (25%)
3. Oregon (80%) vs. 11. Washington State (20%)

1. UCLA (60%) vs. 4. Arizona (40%)
1. UCLA (55%) vs. 5. Colorado (45%)
1. UCLA (80%) vs. 12. Oregon State (20%)
8. Stanford (20%) vs. 4. Arizona (80%)
8. Stanford (30%) vs. 5. Colorado (70%)
8. Stanford (70%) vs. 12. Oregon State (30%)
9. Arizona State (25%) vs. 4. Arizona (75%)
9. Arizona State (20%) vs. 5. Colorado (80%)
9. Arizona State (65%) vs. 12. Oregon State (35%)
2. California (60%) vs. 3. Oregon (40%)
2. California (55%) vs. 6. Washington (45%)
2. California (80%) vs. 11. Washington State (20%)

1. UCLA (40%) vs. California (60%)
8. Stanford (35%) vs. California (65%)
9. Arizona State (30%) vs. California (70%)
4. Arizona (55%) vs. California (45%)
5. Colorado (45%) vs. California (55%)
12. Oregon State (20%) vs. California (80%)

P(Cal wins the Pac-12 Tourney)
= P(Cal wins Thursday) * P(Cal wins Friday | Cal wins Thursday) * P(Cal wins Saturday | Cal wins Friday, Thursday)

= P(Cal wins Thursday) = (P(Cal beats USC | USC beats Utah) + P(Cal beats Utah | Utah beats USC))

= 0.64

P(Cal wins Friday | Cal wins Thursday) = P(Cal beats Oregon) + P(Cal beats Washington) + P(Cal beats Washington State)
= 0.600625

P(Cal wins Saturday | Cal wins Friday, Thursday) = P(Cal beats UCLA) + P(Cal beats Stanford) + P(Cal beats Arizona State) + P(Cal beats Arizona) + P(Cal beats Colorado) + P(Cal beats Oregon State)

= 0.4686951875

Therefore, P(Cal wins Pac-12 Tourney = 0.64 * 0.600625 * 0.4686951875

= 0.180156643007.

This number, of course, is highly dependent on the individually estimated probabilities, and is subject to change. I'm also fairly certain Cal has the highest probability of winning the Pac-12 tournament given what looks to be a favorable draw.

norcalnick: It'll be interesting to see how Vincent's numbers compare to Kenpom's log5 projections. It's certainly true that the Pac-12 is perhaps the most evenly matched major conference in recent history, so the odds of any 1 team winning should be very low.

LEastCoastBears: Nice job Vincent.

I do find it interesting that you think Oregon has a better chance beating Washington (75%) than us beating USC (60%). It's also interesting how you gave us better odds at beating Colorado than UCLA, though that is maybe a bit more understandable given how UCLA can just come out flat. I guess you are giving Washington and Colorado, the last two Pac-10/12 tournament winners better chances due to their past tournament success?

Vincent S: I think that Washington's biggest strength is N'diaye (spelling?) in the middle, and Oregon has the requisite bigs (Kazemi and Woods) to neutralize his rebounding and presence. Meanwhile, USC has given us fits - if not for a near-miracle run at home, we would've gotten blown out by them. Solomon and Kravish also have more to handle in USC's twin 7-footers, and I think the Stanford game showed that we need our interior game working for us to be at our most potent.

With regards to UCLA and Colorado, a 5% difference isn't much (effectively saying that if we played a large number of games, we'd probably win one more game out of 20 against Colorado than UCLA). Colorado doesn't have as much offensive firepower as UCLA, in my opinion. They also seem to do much worse away from home than UCLA does. On the other hand, I don't have us winning against Colorado at a significantly higher rate than winning against UCLA because they do have the one guy who can possibly shut-down Allen Crabbe in Andre Roberson.

norcalnick: The Pac-12 is so close to perfect parity this year that I can't help but feel that any team's chance at winning 3 straight games is the same as your odds of flipping tails three times in a row: 12.5%. On the other hand, Cal will have the advantage of extra rest in their first game, and USC looks to potentially have some discipline issues to deal with, so I like Cal's chances to advance at least a game.

Here's the thing. Monty has never seemed to have much success in the Pac-12 tournament. In seven appearances, his teams have advanced to the title game only twice, and four times he's been one and done. Five times he's lost to a lower seed.

I do think that Monty takes the conference tournament seriously, but I don't think his record is meaningless either. If anything, his record at Cal might reflect the lack of depth that has characterized the Bears for his entire tenure in Berkeley.

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