This has been the year of the home team in the Pac-12 conference. With the regular season in the books, we have a final number for home field advantage: 73-35, for a winning percentage of 68%. That's 3rd highest (behind the WAC and the Big 12) in the nation this year and the highest since at least 2001.
And few teams have reflected that more than Utah. At home, the Utes have been beastly. Only Arizona won in Salt Lake City, in a game that went down to the wire. Utah's other 8 home games saw them win by an average margin of 24 points, and the closest game was a 15 point win over Cal. The only team that could touch the Utes at home is a team widely considered a national title contender.
But on the road? 5-4, with a much more pedestrian average margin of +5 points. Utah capped their road slate with a nine point loss to Washington, who had gone 1-10 in their previous 11. The difference between a 2 and 3 seed in the Pac-12 tournament might not have any meaning beyond the jersey color a team might wear in the semi-finals, but it's shocking that Utah's apparent Achilles Heel managed to knock them out of the top 2.
And for another year, I will wonder if the altitude issue will be a permanent handicap for the Mountain teams.
Team of the Week: Arizona
Some consideration was given to Arizona State for pulling out two close home wins to improbably grab the 5 seed in the conference tournament, but come on.
Arizona finished off a dominating Pac-12 regular season by brutally smothering Cal and Stanford by 39 and 22 points respectively. Neither game was at any point significantly competitive or in doubt. 6 players reached double figures and 11 players scored against Cal. 5 reached double figures and 10 scored against Stanford.
T.J. McConnell is going to graduate and everybody else is going to go pro. Right?
Player of the Week: Shaquielle McKissic
The JC transfer struggled at times this year adapting to a more prominent role as a senior, but he's looked great down the stretch. And his twin performances this weekend earns him the CGB Pac-12 Review player of the week award, which is much more prestigious than the actual Pac-12 POW award he just won.
Game of the Week: Washington St. 96, Colorado 91, OT
Bless you, Ernie Kent. Your return to the sidelines of the Pac-12 conference has added so much fun this year. You play so up-tempo, and your team is so unbalanced, that you can even make games against Colorado fun and exciting!
True, the final score here is a little deceptive because of overtime and a flurry of free throws late in the game. But games that see one team have six double digit scorers and the other team record two players with 26+ points are fun. Games that see the losing team put up 1.15 PPP are fun. Games that never see a double digit deficit and three lead changes in the final few minutes are fun.
Bless you, Ernie Kent.
Disappointment of the Week: Stanford
The Cardinal went 3-7 down the stretch of the season to go from the NCAA tournament to the NIT very, very suddenly. It means that Chasson Randle (and Anthony Brown and Stefan Nastic) will be graduating with just one NCAA tournament appearance, which seems like a pretty ugly coaching failure on the Farm.
I'll note that Stanford was somewhat unlucky; five of those losses were by 6 points or less.
All games on the Pac-12 Network
8 Cal vs 9 Washington State, noon, Pac-12 Network
5 Arizona State vs 12 USC, 2:30, Pac-12 Network
7 Oregon State vs 10 Colorado, 6:00, Pac-12 Network
6 Stanford vs 11 Washington, 8:30, ESPN
Cal/WSU vs. 1 Arizona, noon
ASU/USC vs. 4 UCLA, 2:30
OSU/Colorado vs. 2 Oregon, 6:00
Stanford/Washington vs. 3 Utah, 8:30
Semifinal 1, 6:00, Pac-12 Network
Semifinal 2, 8:30, ESPN
Pac-12 tournament Championship, 8:00, ESPN
Here's your quick Pac-12 tournament stakes:
In the NCAA tournament no matter what happens in Las Vegas: Arizona, Utah, Oregon
On the bubble: UCLA
Out of the NCAA tournament unless they win the Pac-12 Tournament: Everybody else
The bracket matrix has Oregon as an 8 seed, which seems pretty darn safe. The Ducks would be advised to win a few games to avoid the dreaded 8/9 spot, but they're in either way. Stanford is barely even listed, and they have done so much damage to their own resume that I don't even think two wins and a loss in the Pac-12 final could save them.
So UCLA is the only team with much intrigue. The Bruins are generally considered to be one of the last 4 out. If they were to beat Arizona State and Arizona back-to-back, then lose in the title game, it just might be enough to get them into the tournament, probably as a play-in participant. So go Arizona schools, is what I'm saying.
Can somebody steal a bid? Utah and Oregon certainly seem vulnerable on the right night, but that still leaves Arizona. The Wildcats have been seriously threatened just a handful of times in conference play, all on the road. If they play even close to their potential it's hard to see them falling. But it only takes one game, and if it happens in the quarterfinals or semi-finals, the Pac-12 will have an unlikely team make the finals.