Round 1: Cal vs. Stanford
When: Wednesday, 2:30 pm PT
TV: Pac-12 Network
Info on all the other games, plus the bracket: CLICK HERE
I suppose, depending on your (neutral fan) point of view, this year’s edition of the Pac-12 tournament is either fascinating or boring.
It’s fascinating because after favorite Arizona, there are six teams within two games of each other in the regular season standings with relatively similar efficiency profiles . . . which doesn’t even include Arizona State, who finished behind all of them in the standings thanks to an impressive TEN single digit losses in conference play*.
It’s boring because none of these teams are really that good. Arizona is the only team guaranteed to make the NCAA tournament, but they’re a borderline top 25 team that plays crummy defense. This field doesn’t even have a team that has an iffy resume but great underlying numbers. They’re all just very mediocre, and if any of them fail to make the NCAA tournament then nobody but Bill Walton should be complaining that an injustice has been done.
Here’s the Kenpom numbers, and who am I to quibble with any of them? (I still think the computer numbers overrate ASU a bit, so I guess I will do a bit of quibbling.)
Here's the Pac-12. It's the most wide open of all of 'em. At least the ones I've done so far. pic.twitter.com/6ubKf0HwuY— Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) March 4, 2018
Man. Imagine if Arizona actually were missing any of the various players/coaches that probably shouldn’t be eligible for various reasons. You’d have a truly absurd free-for-all. Now THAT would’ve been interesting. Arizona’s probably just going to cruise through, surrounded by their own fans giving Sean Miller a series of increasingly pathetic standing ovations. Pac-12 basketball 2018! Conference of Champions!
*Can somebody hook me up with a montage of Bobby Hurley yelling/grinding his teeth/freaking out in the last five minutes of agonizingly close defeat after agonizingly close defeat?
Hey man, I don’t really care about any of these other teams, tell me about Cal
Well, friend, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that Cal is playing a team that they’ve already beaten on the road! The bad news is that Stanford now isn’t exactly Stanford then, and I’d have preferred not to add potential rivalry pain to what feels like an inevitable Wednesday morning Las Vegas exit.
On the bright side, Cal’s absurd road comeback win in Maples is the definitive nail in Stanford’s long-dead at-large tournament shot, which will never not be funny.
As you might recall, Stanford had a variety of injuries and academic issues that in part caused their miserable 6-7 non-conference performance. But they got healthy just in time for conference play . . . when they lost to Cal.
But (sigh) to their credit, they recovered and went 11-6 the rest of the way, with 5 of those losses being generally credible road performances against tougher teams in the conference. Reid Travis has been a legit all-conference performer and Daejon Davis has looked much better in conference play . . . even though Justice Sueing still should’ve been on the all-freshman team ahead of him.
You can read my first, boring preview, or Kodiak’s much better second preview if you need more info about the specifics of Jerod Haase’s crew. Not a ton has changed, and what has is detailed above. And in case you’re curious, Kenpom sez that Cal has a 16% chance of pulling the upset. I’m guessing that would up Cal’s odds of winning the whole dang thing from .02 all the way up to . . . I dunno, 1%?
Hey, either Cal’s season ends with a quiet whimper in the early afternoon Wednesday block, or the Bears re-ruin Stanford’s season all over again, which would give us a chance to really ruin UCLA’s season. That sounds as close to a win-win as we’re likely to get. Beat the robber barons!