Dane Miller’s Feb 26 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Previews

All 12 teams are in action today with Pac-12 Tourney seeds and NCAA berths on the line

Posted on February 26, 2022

  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

Pac-12With NCAA Tournament aspirations and Pac-12 Tournament seeding on the line, all 12 teams are in action today.

Just three days from the start of March, Oregon’s At-Large hopes are the national narrative.

Yet, the battles for the six through nine-seeds in the Conference Tournament are the primary storylines within the league.

The day kicks off with a showdown on CBS and ends with the USC-UO rematch on ESPN.

I preview all six games here, and my picks along with Stephen Vilardo’s appear at the bottom.

No. 12 UCLA at Oregon State

Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, OR
Saturday, February 26
1:00 pm PT, CBS

It’s Senior Day in Corvallis and the Beavers would like nothing more than to beat the Bruins on national television.

The status of Johnny Juzang is in doubt after the junior guard suffered an ankle injury on Thursday.

Doubling the problems, Jaime Jaquez Jr. has been battling through his own ankle problems as well, limiting UCLA’s top two scoring threats.

Mick Cronin will likely look to Jaylen Clark to make up for the production, but the sophomore played poorly against Oregon two nights ago.

Oregon State’s Ahmad Rand | Amanda Loman/Associated Press

Add in the shooting struggles that Tyger Campbell and Jules Bernard had in Eugene (combined 9-of-23 from the field and 1-for-9 from three), and Cronin has himself a major cause for concern.

The Beavers played well against the Trojans earlier in the week, forcing the game into double-overtime on the back of Dashawn Davis’ 31 points.

Jarod Lucas was hot from deep, too, connecting on five of his six threes as OSU shot 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Back-to-back shooting performances are hard to come by, but even if Oregon State shoots well, it’s hard to imagine UCLA spotting the Beavs 17 turnovers the way the Trojans did.

As long as the Bruins don’t exceed their 9.1 TO’s per game, UCLA should walk away with a road split in Oregon.

Washington football pac-12Washington State at Washington

Alaska Airlines Arena, Seattle, WA
Saturday, February 26
3:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

Seeking its third sweep of Washington since the Pac-12 expanded, the Cougars return to Seattle where they haven’t lost since 2019.

Noah Williams had an off night in Pullman earlier in the week, but Mouhamed Gueye stepped up in his first career Apple Cup.

The freshman from Senegal poured in a career-high 25 points, while Efe Abogidi added another 21.

Kyle Smith and his staff implemented the correct game plan against Mike Hopkins’ zone, effectively moving the ball around the perimeter followed by a quick pass in the paint and an immediate shot.

The Dawgs didn’t adjust their formation to compensate, forcing just nine turnovers and allowing the WSU bigs to shoot a combined 21-for-36 (58.3 percent).

WSU’s Mouhamed Gueye and Washington’s Nate Roberts | Young Kwak / AP

On the other side of the court, Washington State limited Terrell Brown Jr. to just 11 points while generating four turnovers from the senior guard.

But it’s a new day in Seattle and Hopkins figures to make adjustments to his zone. It’s unlikely that the Huskies will allow Abogidi, Gueye, and Dishon Jackson the open looks that they enjoyed on Wednesday.

It’s a risky strategy, but Washington could collapse quicker when the ball gets in the paint and force the Cougars to beat them from three.

The result could be plenty of open looks from beyond the arc, with WSU taking a season-high number of treys.

At the end of the day, if the Cougs eclipse their season average of 33.3 percent from deep, they should find a way to win.

Arizona football Pac-12No. 2 Arizona at Colorado

CU Events Center, Boulder, CO
Saturday, February 26
5:00 pm PT, ESPN2

No. 2 Arizona returns to the CU Events Center where it is 2-6 since Colorado joined the Pac-12.

Kerr Kriisa went off in Salt Lake City, hitting seven threes in the first half and securing UA’s first triple-double since Andre Igu0dala in 2004.

But what happened two days ago doesn’t make the task at hand any easier. The Buffs are the top three-point shooting percentage team in the Conference, dropping in 35.7 percent of their attempts.

And playing at home in what promises to be a hostile environment, CU is dangerous.

Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis | Rebecca Noble/Getty Images

Still, like most teams that face the Wildcats, Colorado doesn’t have the interior size to slow down UA’s bigs.

Hampering Christian Koloko is one thing, but finding someone to defend Azuolas Tubelis at the four is almost impossible.

The Lithuanian is a 6-foot-11, 245-pound lefty who averages 15.5 points per game on 55.5 percent shooting. Fresh off a 23-point night against Utah, the Buffs just don’t have the personnel to match up with him.

And even if they find a way, Bennedict Mathurin is liable to drop 30 and Kriisa could pour in another 20.

With so many weapons at every position, the Wildcats figure to overwhelm Colorado with devastating runs en route to their first victory in Boulder since 2015.

Stanford at California

Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Saturday, February 26
5:30pm PT, Pac-12 Network

At any other program in the Pac-12, the clock would be ticking on Jerod Haase’s tenure.

But the Stanford athletic department is a different animal, and as long as Haase continues to recruit quality players that eventually graduate, it’s hard to see the administration moving on.

Still, applying the same standards that every other team in the league applies, the sixth-year coach has continuously under-performed.

Stanford’s Michael O’Connell | Tony Avelar/Associated Press

At 15-12 overall, the Tree are on track to miss the NCAA Tournament yet again, despite having another clear lottery pick on their roster.

Tyrell Terry, Ziaire Williams, and now Harrison Ingram have all come to hoop on the Farm, but the Cardinal have zero Big Dance appearances to show for it.

That’s the definition of “doing less with more,” and would be grounds for significant pressure at most schools in the Conference.

But putting the soapbox aside, the Tree face a tough challenge in Berkeley. The Bears have advantages in turnovers committed per game, blocked shots per night, and free throw percentage.

And Cal is within a percentage point of Stanford in field goal percentage and three-point percentage.

Those analytics signal a close matchup that could come down to the final minute. It wouldn’t be surprising if the team that takes the final shot ends up walking away with the win.

Arizona State at Utah

Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, UT
Saturday, February 26
7:00 pm PT, ESPNU

The Sun Devils are arguably the hottest sub-.500 team in the nation.

Winning four of its last five, Arizona State has strung together road victories over Washington State and Colorado, while securing home wins against UCLA and Oregon.

If not for a horrendous three months to open the season, ASU would likely have a respectable At-Large resume.

But Bobby Hurley can’t change his team’s record and can only focus on winning the Pac-12 Tournament.

Currently the 9-seed, the Sun Devils might need to win out to avoid the dreaded second-round matchup against the 1-seed. And facing Utah, California, and Stanford over the next seven days, Hurley must like his chances.

Arizona State’s Kimani Lawrence | David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Utah, on the other hand, is in a bit of a renaissance of its own. Craig Smith’s squad has played well over the past month, winning three games and losing another three by two possessions or less.

But on Saturday night, outside shooting figures to be the key.

The Sun Devils went 9-of-17 from three on Thursday, adding a new dimension to their offense.

Slowing down Marreon Jackson and DJ Horne promises to be a primary talking point in Utah’s game plan to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

If Smith’s defense can hold the duo in check, the Utes should have the offensive firepower to outscore the Sun Devils.

usc logoOregon Ducks Logo Pac-12No. 16 USC at Oregon

Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR
Saturday, February 26
7:00 pm PT, ESPN2

The Ducks face arguably their most consequential game of the year when No. 16 USC comes to Matthew Knight Arena.

After sweeping No. 12 UCLA on Thursday, the Ducks are squarely on the bubble with an opportunity to move back into the projected Field of 68 with a victory.

Similarly outmatched against the Trojans on paper, college basketball is at the point in the year where the traditional comparative analytics don’t matter as much.

It’s essentially March, where heart and effort take on greater roles.

Oregon has far more to play for than USC, providing a substantial X-Factor to Dana Altman’s squad.

Oregon’s Jacob Young | Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports

And tipping off at Matthew Knight Arena in the final home game of the year, the crowd promises to be at its rowdiest levels yet.

Multiply those factors by the poor performance USC displayed on Thursday and the questionable status of Boogie Ellis, and it appears to be UO’s game to lose.

Slowing down SC’s Isaiah Mobley and Chavez Goodwin might be the keys, but Andy Enfield’s team appears to live and die by the play of Drew Peterson.

The senior scored 23 points against the Beavers, creating a clear three-pronged game plan for Altman to scheme against.

If the Ducks can keep the trio contained, they should find enough offense to secure the win.

February 26 Game Picks

—More from Dane Miller—