Here’s the ironic thing about the Pac-12: they did everything that they were supposed to do if this was to turn into a one-bid league.
Washington lost in the first round of the conference tournament. Cal lost a day later. The automatic bid will end up in the hands of either Arizona or Colorado, two teams capable of winning a game but incapable of getting a bid unless they force the committee’s hand.
But that probably won’t matter. Despite the No. 10 ranking in the RPI as a conference and just one top 50 win in the non-conference for the entire league, there is a chance this the Pac-12 ends up sending three teams to the NCAA Tournament. The committee has proven that they value winning outright league titles (Washington) but Cal’s overall profile is stronger than UW’s.
None of that is relevant this afternoon, however, as the Buffaloes and the Wildcats tip off at 6 p.m. ET.
The most intriguing part of this matchup, to me, is that both teams are playing for their NCAA Tournament lives. You don’t often see a case in the major conference where a team that makes the title game isn’t guaranteed a spot in the dance with an at-large bid. It’s even more rare, almost unheard of, to find a title game in a major conference where the loser will be headed to the NIT.
As much respect as I have for what Tad Boyle has been abel to do with that Colorado program this season, I’m going to go with Arizona as the favorite to win this. I like the combination of Jesse Perry and Solomon Hill on the front line and I think Arizona has a better back court with Kyle Fogg and Nick Johnson.
That said, the Buffs are not going to be an easy out by any stretch of the imagination. Andre Roberson and Carlon Brown are two of the best athletes while Austin Dufault, Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker give Buffs five players that average betwee 8.9 ppg and 12.6 ppg.
The level of play in the Pac-12 has been criticized all season long, but it cannot be argued that the conference has, at the least, been exciting and unpredictable. Expect much of the same tonight.