Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com fame joined Rob Dauster on the podcast today to talk through the Coaching Carousel, the bracket reveal and some bracket advice Q-and-A. Spoiler alert: Jeff LOVED the bracket reveal, and he tries to justify that opinion unsuccessfully.
OPEN: What did the Selection Committee get wrong with seeding and bubble teams?
10:25: Jeff tries to justify his love for the bracket reveal.
15:15: UConn, Georgia, Pitt and Memphis. Who should they hire? Who will they hire?
26:45: Bracket Breakdown Q-and-A!
CBT Podcast: The Why Your Team Sucks Bracket Breakdown
Brian Snow joined Rob Dauster for another stirring rendition of the Why Your Team Sucks podcast, only this time they breakdown the entire NCAA tournament bracket, giving picks for every single game and even giving you a full bracket to use for your convenience. The rundown:
OPEN: The South Region
17:35: The West Region
33:15: The Midwest Region
48:20: The East Region
1:00:50: The Final Four
VIDEO: Colorado coach Tad Boyle injured in late-game skirmish with Arizona State
The Pac-12 Tournament got heated on Wednesday afternoon as Colorado finished out a win over Arizona State.
With the Buffaloes up nine with under 30 seconds left, Tyler Bey finished an alley-oop with the shot clock was winding down. Since Arizona State wasn’t playing any defense on the play, Colorado wasn’t exactly following proper basketball etiquette with the dunk.
Arizona State senior guard Tra Holder took issue with Bey’s dunk and pushed Bey to the ground, forcing a minor skirmish and a technical foul on Holder to finish out the game. To prevent his players from further escalating the situation, Colorado head coach Tad Boyle ran on the floor and appeared to injure himself while doing so.
Boyle left in a walking boot after telling reporters that he injured his calf while running onto the floor:
Colorado coach Tad Boyle said he either tore or strained his calf running onto the court to break up a fight at the end of the game. Here is him exiting T-Mobile Arena with a cast on his leg/calf area pic.twitter.com/bqFLm8N70e
In what has been a tumultuous season for the Pac-12, beginning with the still-ongoing FBI probe and some misbehavior in China, the league’s 12 teams meet in Las Vegas to determine who will earn the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Arizona, the preseason favorite, won the conference by two games and after an eventful week will arrive at T-Mobile Arena at full strength. Sean Miller’s Wildcats will be favored to win the tournament for the third time in the last four years, but it won’t be easy due to the desperation many teams will be playing with.
UCLA, USC and Washington still have varying amounts of work to do depending upon who’s doing the prognosticating, Arizona State may need wins when it comes to their NCAA tournament seeding, and then there are dangerous teams such as Stanford, Utah and Oregon that need the automatic bid if they’re to play in the Big Dance.
That should all make for an entertaining four days in Las Vegas. Here’s a look at the 2018 Pac-12 Tournament.
It’s Arizona. The Wildcats went 15-3 in conference play, which is quite the achievement given the turmoil surrounding the program. Sean Miller and Allonzo Trier are back after missing both games of the Oregon trip for far different reasons, and in DeAndre Ayton the Wildcats have the conference’s best talent. Add in the likes of Rawle Alkins and Dusan Ristic, and this group has the pieces needed to win three games in as many days. Arizona may not defend as well as past Miller-coached teams have, but the Wildcats are still the best that the Pac-12 has to offer.
There will be no shortage of contenders in Las Vegas, beginning with UCLA and USC. While the Bruins are the four-seed this week, they’ve got one of the conference’s best players in point guard Aaron Holiday and contributors such as Thomas Welsh and Kris Wilkes aren’t slouches, either. The key for UCLA will be the health of Jaylen Hands, who missed Saturday’s win at USC with a sprained ankle. The Bruins can win without Hands, but to play three games in as many days they’ll need all hands on deck.
As for USC, the Trojans are still a force to be reckoned with despite losing Bennie Boatwright to a season-ending knee injury last month. Jordan McLaughlin and Chimezie Metu form one of the conference’s best inside/out tandems, and the Trojans have talented options throughout the rotation. And it should also be noted that USC finished conference play second in defensive efficiency (conference games only) per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers. Utah, which surprised more than a few people by finishing third, and a Stanford team that’s whole after seeing multiple players miss time due to injury, should not be ignored either.
WHO NEEDS A WIN THE MOST?
Both L.A. schools are in a position where they would be well-served to pick up at least one win in Las Vegas. But the pick here is Washington, which will begin its tournament with Oregon State in Wednesday’s first round. Mike Hopkins’ Huskies have wins over Kansas (in Kansas City) and Arizona that will certainly help their cause, and with just one Quadrant 3/4 loss (at Oregon State in double overtime) they’ve avoided the kinds of losses that stick out in a negative way. Taking care of the Beavers would set up a matchup with USC, a team the Huskies beat in Los Angeles during the opening weekend of conference play.
WHO IS ON THE BUBBLE?
The L.A. schools and Washington enter this tournament on the bubble, and as mentioned above the Huskies begin with a matchup against Oregon State that would be damaging to their profile should they lose. Both UCLA and USC have first round byes, and should the games play out according to seed the Bruins would draw a tough matchup in Stanford while the Trojans would get Washington. Arizona State should be safely in the field, but taking care of Colorado and at the very least showing well against Arizona would likely ensure that they’ll wear home uniforms in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Stanford as the 5-seed may classify as a sleeper, and it should be noted that with Reid Travis leading the way this is a group with the talent needed to make a run in Las Vegas. With Travis, Michael Humphrey and Dorian Pickens the Cardinal don’t lack for experience, and they’ve also got some young talented contributors as well with Daejon Davis and Oscar da Silva being two of the noteworthy underclassmen. Also, Arizona State as the 9-seed makes the Sun Devils a candidate for sleeper status. Bobby Hurley’s backcourt ranks among the best in the country, with Tra Holder leading the way, and they’ve got some big wins to their credit. But in order to make a run, the Sun Devils will have to tighten things up defensively and on the glass.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Aaron Holiday, UCLA. Ayton is the league’s best player and could very well be the first player selected in this summer’s NBA Draft. But given the stakes, not to mention the way in which he’s played throughout the season, Holiday is the one to watch. After ending the regular season with a 34-point, seven-assist, five-rebound masterclass against USC, Holiday is more than capable of carrying the Bruins on a run that would ensure them of an NCAA tournament bid.
– Arizona vs. Everybody. While the Wildcats won the regular season title, this has not been a smooth run by any stretch of the imagination. This team’s mindset going in, especially if they can properly turn the outside noise into positive fuel, will be something worth keeping an eye on.
– Oregon. The Ducks don’t lack for talent, and it could be argued that their portion of the bracket (Washington State, then Utah if they win) sets up well for a run. But it should be noted that the Ducks lost to Wazzu in Pullman last week.
– Utah’s defense. The Runnin’ Utes finished seventh in the conference in defensive efficiency (league games only), but they have been better on that end of the floor. And with first team all-conference guard Justin Bibbins and a quality big man in David Collette leading the way, if they can continue that progress it wouldn’t be a shock if Utah managed to reach Saturday night’s final.
NBC SPORTS PAC-12 POSTSEASON HONORS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: DeAndre Ayton, Arizona
COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike Hopkins, Washington
FIRST TEAM ALL PAC-12
Tra Holder, Arizona State
Aaron Holiday, UCLA
Allonzo Trier, Arizona
Chimezie Metu, USC
DeAndre Ayton, Arizona
SECOND TEAM ALL PAC-12
Justin Bibbins, Utah
Jordan McLaughlin, USC
Tres Tinkle, Oregon State
Mathysse Thybulle, Washington
Reid Travis, Stanford
Pac-12 Conference Reset: How many teams go dancing?
College basketball’s non-conference season is finally coming to a close.
To help you shake off post-holiday haze and the hangover of losing in your fantasy football playoffs, we’ll be providing you with some midseason primers to get you caught up on all the nation’s most important conferences.
Who has been the best player in the biggest leagues?
Who is on track to get an NCAA tournament bid?
What have we learned about the conference hierarchy, and what is left for us to figure out?
We break it all down here.
Today, we’ll be taking a look at the Pac-12.
MIDSEASON PAC-12 PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tra Holder, Arizona State
Having improved statistically in each of his first three seasons at Arizona State, Holder has made another major leap forward as a senior. Averaging 21.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, Holder is doing this while shooting 46.7 percent from the field, 45.8 percent from three and 83.1 percent from the foul line. It’s one thing to be given the green light to make plays, as is the case for Arizona State’s guards under head coach Bobby Hurley. It’s another to do so at a high level and help lead a team through non-conference play undefeated.
THE ALL PAC-12 FIRST TEAM
TRA HOLDER, ARIZONA STATE
ALLONZO TRIER, ARIZONA: For all the critiques of Trier following last season’s Sweet 16 exit, he’s been incredibly efficient as a junior. Trier’s averaging 21.2 points per game while shooting 56.2 percent from the field and 43.1 percent from beyond the arc.
AARON HOLIDAY, UCLA: This pick was a tough one, because Arizona State’s Shannon Evans II has a very good argument as well. However Holiday’s also performed well thus far, averaging 17.6 points, 5.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game.
DEANDRE AYTON, ARIZONA: To say that Ayton may be the toughest individual matchup in the Pac-12 would be a conservative statement. The 7-foot-1 freshman is averaging 19.5 points and 11.4 rebounds per game while shooting 61.7 percent from the field.
REID TRAVIS, STANFORD: While the Cardinal have struggled thus far,
going 6-7 in non-conference play, Travis has been one of the Pac-12’s most productive front court players. The redshirt junior is averaging 21.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, and he’s shooting 52.7 percent from the field in doing so.
NCAA:Arizona, Arizona State, USC, UCLA, Oregon
NIT: Utah, Washington
OTHER/NO POSTSEASON:Colorado, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington State, California
THREE THINGS WE’VE LEARNED
1. OFF-COURT ISSUES CHANGED THE EQUATION FOR MULTIPLE SCHOOLS: One had to have the feeling that this would be an interesting season in the Pac-12 dating back to late-September, as the still-ongoing FBI investigation saw two teams have assistant coaches arrested and later indicted (Arizona’s Emanuel Richardson and USC’s Tony Bland). Add in UCLA losing three freshmen due to their decision to shoplift while in China, and non-conference play has been an adventure to say the least.
While Arizona hasn’t lost a player due to the FBI investigation USC has, as versatile sophomore guard DeAnthony Melton continues to sit as the school looks into things. And UCLA’s rotation is three players lighter as Cody Riley and Jalen Hill will sit out the entire season and LiAngelo Ball will be playing professionally in Lithuania. For all this turmoil recent results suggest that each team should be OK, however. Arizona has won seven straight, USC won the Diamond Head Classic and UCLA picked up a win over Kentucky. But merely being “OK” may not equal making a deep run in March, which all three programs have the goal of doing.
2. CONSIDERED A TOURNAMENT TEAM BEFORE THE SEASON STARTED, ARIZONA STATE MAY BE EVEN MORE THAN THAT: There are only three undefeated teams in college basketball, and to the surprise of many the Sun Devils are in that class (Villanova and TCU being the others). Given the talent and experience back on the perimeter in Tra Holder, Shannon Evans II and Kodi Justice, to see Bobby Hurley’s team as an NCAA tournament squad was not far-fetched. But thanks to the combination of holdovers and newcomers, the Sun Devils have the look of a team that can play deep into March.
Romello White has been an impact addition after sitting out last season, and the same can be said of fellow forward De’Quon Lake. Those two combined to average 24.2 points and 14.9 rebounds per game in non-conference play, and while his numbers may not jump off the page Vitaliy Shibel’s contributions should not be overlooked, either. Adding Mickey Mitchell — and eventually Kimani Lawrence — improves Arizona State’s front court depth. Lastly, we cannot forget to note the impact that freshman Remy Martin’s had on the perimeter. The energetic newcomer can be an absolute pest on the perimeter defensively, and he’s also averaging 9.9 points per game. If they can improve defensively and on the boards, Arizona State should (at minimum) contend in the Pac-12.
3. THERE’S CLEAR SEPARATION IN THE CONFERENCE PECKING ORDER: While there have been some surprising results produced by teams expected to finish in the bottom half of the conference, most notably Washington’s win over Kansas and Washington State winning the Wooden Legacy, there have also been a host of losses that would give one pause when considering whether or not to believe in those teams. As a result, entering conference play it appears as if there are five surefire NCAA tournament teams with the rest either being questionable or worse.
Washington State followed up the Wooden Legacy with losses to UC Davis, Idaho and UTEP, Oregon State has losses to Long Beach State and Kent State on its ledger, Colorado’s lost to Colorado State and San Diego, and both California and Stanford begin league play below .500. Washington may have the best shot of any of those teams of making a run at the NCAA tournament bubble, as none of its three losses (Providence, Virginia Tech and Gonzaga) would be considered “bad.” But the pickings are slim, which in addition to hurting the bottom of the Pac-12 could hurt bubble teams in search of quality wins in the months of February and March.
THREE STORYLINES TO FOLLOW
1. ARIZONA STATE’S STAYING POWER: The Sun Devils’ 12-0 start to the season has certainly been impressive, with wins over Kansas and Xavier being the headliners. But for a program that last reached the NCAA tournament in 2014, it’s fair to wonder whether or not Arizona State will be able to sustain this run of form and at the very least contend in the Pac-12. As noted above there is some work to be done on the defensive end of the floor, as Arizona State is ranked 122nd in adjusted defensive efficiency per kenpom.com.
The biggest reason for those struggles: defensive rebounding, as Arizona State is rebounding just 68.6 percent of its opponents’ missed shots. That figure ranks 11th in the Pac-12, with Washington (67.4) being the only team that’s been worse. Mickey Mitchell, who has a personal defensive rebounding percentage of 23.1 in his limited time on the floor, should help in this regard. Addressing the rebounding issue could be the difference between going to the NCAA tournament and simply winning a game or playing deep into the month of March.
2. WILL DE’ANTHONY MELTON BE ALLOWED TO PLAY?: USC managed to rebound from its overtime loss to Princeton by winning the Diamond Head Classic, with tournament MVP Bennie Boatwright and sophomore guard Jonah Mathews both looking healthier after having been hampered by injuries prior to the Trojans’ trip to Hawaii. But this is a team that still misses the contributions of Melton, a versatile guard who can have an impact for this team on both ends of the court.
Defensively, Melton has both the size and athleticism to defend multiple positions on the perimeter. Offensively, he can operate with or without the basketball in his hands. Simply put, Melton can be a “mixing agent” for a team that really doesn’t have that kind of player at this point in time despite its wealth of talent. Will USC ultimately clear Melton to return to the court? And if that happens, how prepared will Melton be to have an impact once on the floor? USC has the tools to contend in the Pac-12 without Melton, but his return would certainly improve their chances of winning the league.
3. CAN OREGON INSERT ITSELF INTO THE CONFERENCE CONVERSATION?: Given the fact that Oregon lost six of its top seven scorers from last season’s Final Four team, it should come as no surprise that the current group of Ducks needed some time to adjust not only to Dana Altman’s system but to each other as well. Oregon’s field goal and three-point percentages are about where they were a season ago, with this year’s group shooting 47.9 percent from the field (48.0 last season) and 37.7 percent from three (38.0).
After going through a stretch in which it lost three of four games, Oregon has won five straight to wrap up non-conference play. While the win at Fresno State is the only result that will make an impression from an NCAA profile standpoint, it’s important to note that was a game the Ducks trailed by 12 early in the second half. Payton Pritchard has taken a step forward as a sophomore, and newcomers such as Elijah Brown and Troy Brown have looked more comfortable of late. There’s also Kenny Wooten, who’s elicited comparisons to Jordan Bell with his production defensively (3.2 bpg) while also being an effective finisher around the basket.
As part of the quintet of teams in the league most likely to go dancing, can Oregon be a Pac-12 title contender? If they continue to grow together, it’s certainly possible.
1. ARIZONA WINS THE PAC-12 OUTRIGHT: The Wildcats did not play well at the Battle 4 Atlantis, but it’s important to remember that Rawle Alkins was out with a broken foot. Since the trip to the Bahamas the Wildcats have won seven straight, the last four with Alkins in the lineup. His return gives Arizona a power wing who can more than supplement what Allonzo Trier and DeAndre Ayton bring to the table. And the supporting cast, most notably Dusan Ristic, has become more comfortable with their respective roles of late.
That being said, the offense isn’t the concern for Sean Miller which is a bit of a departure from seasons past. It’s the defense, partially a byproduct of have two players who are most effective at the center position (Ayton and Ristic) on the court at the same time for significant stretches of time. They’ve become more comfortable with each other defensively, which will be a key moving forward. If that continues to happen and Arizona gets better at defending the three, they’ve got the talent needed to win the Pac-12 title outright. And the prediction here is that this will happen.
2. WASHINGTON JUST MISSES OUT ON AN NCAA BID: There wasn’t much expected of the Huskies in the first season of Mike Hopkins’ tenure as head coach, but the Huskies have been a positive surprise in non-conference play. Of course there’s the win over Kansas in Kansas City, one of the league’s most impressive non-conference victories. And even though the Huskies had some close calls, none of their losses were particularly damaging. For that reason Washington enters conference play in better shape to potentially earn an NCAA bid than many anticipated back in October.
That all being said, even with the play of veterans such as Noah Dickerson, David Crisp and Mathysse Thybulle and freshman Jaylen Nowell, Washington’s struggles on the defensive end of the floor will be why this team lands in the NIT. Opponents are averaging nearly 76 points per game, and Washington is ranked in the two hundreds nationally in both effective field goal percentage defense (52.3; 223rd) and defensive rebounding percentage (67.4; 287th). Washington has the talent to be a middle of the pack team in the Pac-12, but if they’re to do what few expect and reach the NCAA tournament this team has to get better defensively.
3. SOMEONE FROM A TEAM IN THE BOTTOM HALF OF THE LEAGUE CONTENDS FOR PAC-12 PLAYER OF THE YEAR: The pick for the Pac-12’s top played in non-conference play here is Arizona State’s Tra Holder, and one can find a host of worthy contenders from other top teams in the conference. Shannon Evans II, Allonzo Trier, DeAndre Ayton and Aaron Holiday are just some of the contenders from teams that at the very least should hear their names called on Selection Sunday.
While those are the teams that tend to produce Player of the Year winners, with voters generally preferring to reward team success, there are some options on teams that may not finish in the top half of the conference worth considering as well. Stanford’s Reid Travis and Oregon State’s Tres Tinkle (18.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.2 apg) are two possibilities, and with the conference going with a 10-member first team at season’s end at bare minimum both should land on that list.
Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright
Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.
A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.
The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.
It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.