Dane Miller’s Round 2 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Tourney Preview

NCAA Tournament hopes are on the line, with only Arizona, UCLA, and USC sure to make it

Posted on March 10, 2022

  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

The First Round of the Pac-12 Tournament saw a historic comeback capped by a buzzer-beater, followed by two double-digit wins and a seven-point Wazzu victory.

But the Quarterfinals are where the action truly begins.

NCAA Tournament hopes are on the line today, with only Arizona, UCLA, and USC currently projected to make the Field of 68.

That leaves four teams whose seasons might be over with a loss, and all four should play like their lives depend on it.

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

Arizona football Pac-12No. 9 Stanford v. No. 1 Arizona

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Thursday, March 10
Noon PT, Pac-12 Network

The 1-seed’s first game of the Pac-12 Tournament traditionally begins with a slow start.

The winner of the 8-9 matchup is always riding a wave of momentum after securing the victory on Wednesday, usually coming out hot from the field.

Combined with Arizona’s occasional tendency to start slow, the score of this matchup could be surprising by the first TV timeout. But the 1-seed always gets it together by the middle of the second half.

Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin | Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Wildcats don’t have any disadvantages on paper, and Tommy Lloyd won’t hold back the reins now that it’s March.

Yet, if the Cardinal wind up holding a significant rebounding advantage, Jerod Haase’s team might have a chance.

While the Cats swept the Pac-12 awards, Kerr Kriisa was left off the All-Conference selections. The Estonian guard doesn’t need extra motivation to turn it up, but the slap in the face is sure to light a fire under him.

Look for Kriisa to have a hot game from deep and Arizona to win by double-digits.

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12No. 5 Oregon v. No. 4 Colorado

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Thursday, March 10
2:30 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

In what promises to be the top game of the day in Vegas, Oregon and Colorado square up for a matchup that will end one team’s NCAA Tournament hopes.

The Ducks remain without Will Richardson, but Jacob Young seamlessly took over the lead point guard role. With Young running the offense, Oregon posted 19 assists, which tied its season-high set in November.

In an even matchup on paper, Colorado’s three-point shooting and UO’s rebounding figure to determine the game.

Colorado’s K.J. Simpson | CUBuffs.com

The Buffs are the top 3-point percentage shooting team in the Conference, knocking down 36.5 percent of their shots.

Dana Altman’s squad, on the other hand, is one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. The Ducks sit ninth in the Pac-12 in rebounds per game, ahead of only California, Washington, and Oregon State.

Yet, if Oregon can defend the perimeter effectively and out-rebound CU, the Ducks may survive and advance.

But if the Buffaloes dominate the glass and limit their turnovers, Colorado could end up one step closer to the Big Dance.

No. 7 Washington State v. No. 2 UCLA

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Thursday, March 10
6:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

The Cougars face the first high hurdle blocking their path to securing the Pac-12’s automatic qualifier.

Top to bottom, UCLA is one of the deepest teams in the country and has plenty of March experience.

Other than an edge in blocked shots per game, free throw percentage, and a slight advantage in rebounds per game, the Bruins outclass Washington State on paper.

UCLA’s Jaylen Clark | Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The trio of Jaime Jaquez Jr., Tyger Campbell, and Johnny Juzang received First Team All-Conference honors, while Jules Bernard puts up 12.3 points per game on his own.

And with Jaylen Clark, David Singleton, Peyton Watson, Cody Riley, and Myles Johnson comprising the rest of the rotation, Mick Cronin has himself a dangerous team.

But it’s UCLA’s decision-making and ball security that set it above nearly every team in the country. Averaging just 8.8 turnovers per game, the Bruins are fourth in Division I basketball at taking care of the rock.

For WSU to pull off the upset, it must create double-digit turnovers and convert those TO’s into points.

Washington football pac-12usc logoNo. 6 Washington v. No. 3 USC

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Thursday, March 10
8:30 pm PT, FS1

For just the second time this season, Washington takes on the Trojans.

The Dawgs’ offense was humming on Wednesday night against Utah, but SC has a far superior defense than the Utes.

Holding the 54th-best defensive efficiency rating according to KenPom, Andy Enfield’s roster presents a challenge for UW’s one-on-one offense.

Drew Peterson and Max Agbonkpolo have the height to frustrate Terrell Brown Jr.

USC’s Isaiah Mobley | Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The duo helped limit Brown to 38.8 percent shooting in the first matchup, while the rest of the USC defense kept UW’s role players in check.

Offensive rebounding figures to play a large role tonight, where second-chance opportunities could tip the scales in either direction.

But to upset the Trojans, Mike Hopkins probably needs his secondary scorers to step up. Cole Bajema went 1-for-7 at the Galen Center, while Jamal Bey, PJ Fuller, and Nate Roberts combined for 11 points on 15 shots.

The availability of Daejon Davis this time around could change the dynamics, but it’s going to take a full team effort to get the job done.

Still, teams never know if the slipper fits until March, and the Huskies get their chance to try it on tonight.

Round 2 Pac-12 Tournament Game Picks

—More from Dane Miller—