2015 conference tournament previews

WAC Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

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Marvin Menzies wants to recreate this scene from last year (AP Photo)

The WAC played out as many expected, with preseason favorite New Mexico State winning the league with a 13-1 conference record. Two of the Aggies’ key players, Daniel Mullings and Tshilidzi Nephawe, returned to the rotation in mid-January after missing time due to injury and New Mexico State hasn’t missed a beat. And this is their tournament to lose, as the only other WAC team with an overall winning record (Grand Canyon) isn’t playing since they’re ineligible for postseason play as a provisional Division I member. While there could be some surprises in other areas of the bracket, the biggest would be if the Aggies didn’t win the automatic bid.

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MORENBCSports.com’s 2015 Conference Tournament Previews

When: March 12-14

Where: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas

Final: March 14, 11:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

Favorite: New Mexico State

The Aggies lost just one conference game, falling 58-52 at Seattle January 17. Since then they’ve won 11 straight games, with Mullings and Nephawe back in the rotation. Nephawe’s injury meant even more time for freshman Pascal Siakam, and boy did he step up. The WAC’s top freshman, Siakam averaged 13.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game and senior forward Remi Barry is also averaging 13.2 points per contest. Five players average between 9.5 and 13.2 points per game and a sixth, guard D.K. Eldridge, adds 8.4 ppg.

And if they lose?: Kansas City

Kansas City has the WAC’s best scorer in sophomore Martez Harrison, who averaged 17.4 points to go along with 3.8 assists per game. Kareem Richardson’s team does a good job of forcing turnovers on the other end, as they forced a league-best 16.8 turnovers per game. But if there’s a concern for the Kangaroos, it’s that they allowed conference opponents to post an offensive rebounding percentage of 40 percent. They have to be better in that area in order to make a run in Las Vegas.

Other Contenders:

  • Seattle: Cameron Dollar’s Redhawks are led by the tandem of Isiah Umipig and Jarell Flora, who combine to average nearly 31 points per game. But can anyone else step forward offensively?
  • Bakersfield: Rod Barnes’ Roadrunners dropped two straight to end the regular season, including one against quarterfinal opponent Utah Valley, but they have one of the WAC’s best big men in Aly Ahmed (13.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg).

Player of the Year: Martez Harrison, Kansas City

In addition to averaging 17.4 points per game, Harrison also accounted for 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game. He’s the feature option for Kansas City, which relies on him to create for himself and his teammates. And despite the attention from opposing teams that comes with this, Harrison’s been very productive.

Coach of the Year: Marvin Menzies, New Mexico State

Menzies’ team went 13-1 in conference play, and their 13 wins were by an average of 14.2 points per game. Sure they were expected to win the league, but New Mexico State was flat-out dominant this season.

First Team All-WAC:

  • Harrison
  • Isiah Umipig, Seattle: Averaging 16.7 points per game, Umipig shot 43 percent from beyond the arc.
  • Daniel Mullings, New Mexico State: Mullings averages 12.8 points per game, and he second on the Aggies in both rebounds (5.4) and assists (2.6) per game and he led the team in steals.
  • Pascal Siakam, New Mexico State: Siakam was one reason why New Mexico State was as dominant as they were despite some key injuries, and he posted a double-double in 12 of the Aggies’ 14 league games.
  • Aly Ahmed, Bakersfield: Ahmed’s averaging 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game for the Roadrunners.

CBT Prediction: New Mexico State rolls to another WAC tournament title.

American Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

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source: AP

The American is as down this season as the league is ever going to be. UConn and Memphis are both NIT-bound, barring a miracle run through the conference tournament. Temple is good, but they’d be headed to the NIT if they didn’t happen to catch fire against Kansas on a night the Jayhawks were struggling. Cincinnati overachieved this year, especially considering what happened with Mick Cronin.

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It certainly didn’t help matters that SMU spent the first half of the season without Markus Kennedy, the second half of the season without Justin Martin or Keith Frazier, and the entire season without Emmanuel Mudiay. Think about it like this: the Player of the Year in the American wasn’t even supposed to be the starting point guard on his team this season. That’s why a team like Tulsa, in their first season in the American, was able to sneak in and play for a league title.

That said, those struggles should mean that the conference tournament is going to have some weird things happen.




MORE: NBCSports.com’s 2015 Conference Tournament Previews

When: March 12-15

Where: Hartford, CT

Final: March 15, 3:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Favorite: SMU

The Mustangs are, quite simply, the best team in the conference, and I’m not convinced that it is all that close. They have the league’s best point guard in Nic Moore and a front line anchored by the likes of Markus Kennedy, Yannick Moreira and Ben Moore. They’re tough, they defend and they execute offensively. There’s a reason Larry Brown is a legend.

And if they lose?: Temple

I’m not quite sure what to make of the Owls at this point, but in talking to people around the conference, many seem to be in agreement that Temple is as good as anyone in the league … when they’re at 100 percent. Well, guess what? They’re at 100 percent.

Other Contenders:

  • Cincinnati: The fact that the Bearcats are headed for the NCAA tournament with head coach Mick Cronin out of commission is incredibly impressive. They have issues scoring the ball, but they can be a nightmare to try and run offense against.
  • Tulsa: There’s a reason that Tulsa finished second in the conference this season, but there’s also a reason that they’re still on the NCAA tournament bubble. This group can beat teams, but most of their damage in the league this season came against the AAC’s bottom-feeders. They’ll ride Shaquille Harrison and Jordan Woodard as far as possible.

Sleeper: UConn

Let’s go beyond the fact that the Huskies have built a name for themselves as a tournament team the last few years, or that Ryan Boatright is the most talented player in the conference and surrounded by two potential stars — Daniel Hamilton and Rodney Purvis — who are coming into their own. This event will take place in Hartford and will be packed with UConn fans. They’re home games. Can the Huskies capitalize?

American Player of the Year: Nic Moore, SMU

Moore wasn’t even supposed to be the starting point guard for the Mustangs this season. He was recruited over, relegated to playing off the ball with the addition of Emmanuel Mudiay. But with Mudiay heading to China, and the academic issues that forced Markus Kennedy, Keith Frazier and Justin Martin to miss time, Moore was this team’s rock, the reason they won the conference title.

American Coach of the Year: Frank Haith, Tulsa

Who had the Golden Hurricane playing for the outright American title on the final day of the regular season? Anyone? Bueller? Haith gets his fair share of criticism as a coach — some fair, some not — but there’s no denying the job that he did with this team in their first season in the conference.

First Team All-AAC:

  • Moore
  • Ryan Boatright, UConn: The Huskies did not have a great deal of success this season, but it wasn’t because Boatright didn’t put up big numbers. He’s not Shabazz Napier, but he’s still a terrific talent.
  • Austin Nichols, Memphis: Nichols battled an ankle injury for much of the last month of the season, but he was the Tigers’ best player and arguably the best defender in the league.
  • James Woodard, Tulsa: Woodward was the leader for the Golden Hurricane as they surprised everyone and finished second in the conference in the regular season.
  • Will Cummings, Temple: The Owls were one of the league’s biggest surprises, and Cummings was a major reason why.

Second Team All-AAC:

  • Markus Kennedy, SMU
  • Shaquille Harrison, Tulsa
  • Daniel Hamilton, UConn
  • Octavious Ellis, Cincinnai
  • Louis Dabney, Tulane

Defining moment of the season: Emmanuel Mudiay’s trip to China

With Emmanuel Mudiay, SMU had a chance to be a legitimate Final Four contender. With their front line and a back court featuring Nic Moore and Mudiay, Larry Brown would have been in his element. As it turned out, Moore won Player of the Year and SMU won the league, but they’re ceiling as a team was greatly reduced.

CBT Prediction: UConn makes an improbably run through the tournament and wins the automatic bid by beating SMU.

SEC Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

source: Getty Images
(Getty Images)

Kentucky vs. The Field has been a popular debate among college basketball for much of the season, but first, the Wildcats have to get out of the SEC Tournament. At 31-0, John Calipari’s team is the heavy favorite to win the auto bid and it will be interesting to see if Kentucky continues its trend of playing well in big games on national television.

As long as Kentucky stays healthy and fully engaged, there’s no reason they shouldn’t win in Nashville.

Arkansas is the only other top-25 team in the SEC and the Razorbacks are coming off of a late loss against LSU as they’ve faltered a bit down the stretch. But the Razorbacks feature the SEC’s Player of the Year in sophomore Bobby Portis and he’s been fantastic during SEC play.

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From there, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M are still fighting for NCAA Tournament bids and/or better seeding. The Aggies and Tigers, in particular, could use a win or two to help get them into the field of 68 while Georgia and Ole Miss could use some wins to get out of the near double-digit seeding range they currently sit.

Some other dangerous teams lurk in the lower seeds as Vanderbilt is playing much better late in the season after some close losses and Florida has enough talent to at least put a scare into Kentucky if they play in the quarterfinals and the Wildcats have an off-night.



MORE: NBCSports.com’s 2015 Conference Tournament Previews

When: March 11-15

Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville

Final: March 15, 12 p.m. (ESPN)

Favorite: Kentucky

Like there was any doubt? The Wildcats have rolled to a perfect 31-0 record before heading to Nashville to begin the postseason and it seems as though Kentucky plays even better when the game has national significance. Defensively, Kentucky can be as dominant as any team in the country, and offensively, they have so many different weapons and ways to get shots that they’re tough to stop.

And if they lose?: Arkansas

The Razorbacks benefited from only facing Kentucky once in the SEC and they’re the only team in the conference to be consistently featured in the top 25 during league play. Led by third-team All-American Bobby Portis, the Razorbacks have been more consistent away from home this season and can intimidate teams with their athleticism on both ends of the floor. But can Mike Anderson’s team bounce back from a 3-2 end of the conference season that also included some narrow wins?

Other Contenders

  • Georgia: Besides being swept by South Carolina and losing to Auburn at home, the Bulldogs have been rather strong in SEC play and have only lost to the conference’s top-four teams outside of that. Plus, Mark Fox’s team has actually given Kentucky a real test this season.
  • LSU: The road win at Arkansas to end the season was a big one and sophomore Jarell Martin is playing tremendous down the stretch. The Tigers are certainly talented enough to make a run in the postseason if Jordan Mickey is healthy and playing at full speed.

Sleeper: Vanderbilt

The Commodores are surging down the stretch and the experienced pieces are finally gelling with the freshmen. Sophomore big man Damian Jones has generated some early NBA buzz while freshman guard Riley LaChance is one of the most underrated freshman among power conferences in the country. As a team, Vanderbilt shoots 39 percent from 3-point range, and if they get hot, they can be tough to stop.

SEC Player of the Year: Bobby Portis, Arkansas

A third-team NBCSports.com All-American, Portis was the most important individual player on any team in the SEC this season. Averaging 17.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game on good shooting splits (56% FG, 42% 3Pt, 74% FT), the 6-foot-11 sophomore scored in double figures in all but one game this season as the Razorbacks’ go-to guy. In SEC play Portis played even better, as he averaged 18.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game while also blocking 2.8 shots a game in league play.

SEC Coach of the Year: John Calipari, Kentucky

Kentucky has answered every question about its use of one-and-done players and the platoon system this season by dominating opponents and playing mostly selfless basketball. Calipari is a huge reason why. The head coach has gotten nine McDonald’s All-Americans to put aside ego for the greater good of the bigger picture (a national title) and the result has been one of the best college basketball teams in recent memory.

First-Team All-SEC:

  • Portis
  • Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky – An NBCSports.com first-team All-American, the junior center is the country’s best defensive player, covering an incredible amount of ground on the perimeter while also protecting the rim as well as anyone in the nation.
  • Karl Anthony-Towns, Kentucky – The potential top-3 pick in the NBA Draft has played his best ball down the stretch. The freshman center only plays an average of 20 minutes a game but has at least 12 points in eight of his last 11 games.
  • Josh Richardson, Tennessee – It’s hard to imagine how bad Tennessee basketball would have been this season without Josh Richardson. The senior used a great 2014 NCAA Tournament as momentum for a tremendous senior year.
  • Jarell Martin, LSU – Coin flip between Martin and sophomore teammate Jordan Mickey based on numbers. Mickey has many more blocks, but Martin has been huge down the stretch, including 27 points in a road win at Arkansas that might have saved LSU’s season.

Second Team All-SEC:

  • Jordan Mickey, LSU
  • Danuel House, Texas A&M
  • Damian Jones, Vanderbilt
  • Stefan Moody, Ole Miss
  • Devin Booker Kentucky

CBT Prediction: Kentucky stays unbeaten entering the NCAA Tournament and beats Georgia for the title.

Big West Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

AP Photo

Similar to last season UC Irvine was the preseason pick to win the Big West. But unlike last season, it wasn’t the Anteaters who managed to win the title. Instead UC Davis, led by senior guard Corey Hawkins, won the title outright on the strength of the conference’s most efficient offense in league games. Jim Les’ Aggies won’t lack for challengers either, as UC Irvine and UCSB both have the pieces needed to win the tournament. Last season Cal Poly won the tournament as a seven-seed, which should serve as evidence that anything can happen in Anaheim.

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The Bracket


MORENBCSports.com’s 2015 Conference Tournament Previews

When: March 12-14

Where: Honda Center, Anaheim

Final: March 14, 11:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Favorite: UC Davis

The Aggies have Corey Hawkins, who leads the team in points, rebounds, assists and steals, and fellow senior Josh Ritchart is averaging 11.9 points per game. The keys for UC Davis this week are simple: other step up alongside Hawkins, as they’ve done at various points in conference play, and they do a better job when it comes to rebounding and taking care of the basketball. UC Davis allowed opponents to rebound 33.1 percent of their misses, and they also turn the ball over on 21.1 percent of their possessions.

And if they lose?: UCSB

Bob Williams’ Gauchos were without senior center Alan Williams for a significant portion of conference play, and when he returned the team hit its stride. They’ve won five straight and eight of their last nine games, and in the five-game win streak are triumphs over both UC Davis and UC Irvine (the same week, in fact). In addition to Williams the Gauchos have junior guard Michael Bryson, who’s averaging 14.1 points per game, and in total there are four players averaging at least ten points per game.


  • UC Irvine: Hard to call the Anteaters a sleeper given their recent success in the conference, as they’re a team capable of making up for last season’s disappointing finish. Will Davis II and 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye are their lone double-digit scorers, but guards Alex Young and Luke Nelson aren’t far off. Russell Turner’s team is solid defensively, and that should help their chances this week.
  • Long Beach State: The 49ers have an interesting quarterfinal matchup with Hawaii, as the teams split the regular season series with neither game being all that close. The good news for the 49ers: they tested themselves with a tough non-conference schedule, and they have a four-time All-Big West point guard in Mike Caffey.

Player of the Year: Corey Hawkins, UC Davis

As noted above Hawkins led the Aggies in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals, and he was incredibly effective despite being the player all opponents aim to neutralize. Averaging 20.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, Hawkins is shooting 49.8 percent from the field and 49.7 percent from beyond the arc.

Coach of the Year: Jim Les, UC Davis

Picked to finish fifth, UC Davis won the league by three games and was by a considerable margin the Big West’s most efficient offensive team. Les is the clear choice for Big West Coach of the Year.

First Team All-Big West:

  • Hawkins
  • Mike Caffey, Long Beach State: Caffey’s been named All-Big West in each of his four seasons at The Beach, and as a senior he’s averaging 15.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
  • Will Davis II, UC Irvine: With Mamadou Ndiaye playing just 11 games for health reasons, Davis (12.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg) kept the Anteaters afloat in the front court for most of the season.
  • Taylor Johns, UC Riverside: Averaging 16.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, Johns is third in the conference in scoring and second in rebounding.
  • Alan Williams, UCSB: Williams is the only player in the conference averaging a double-double, with 16.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game.

CBT Prediction: Now at full strength, look for UCSB to win the Big West tournament crown.

Big Sky Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

Eastern Washington’s Tyler Harvey (AP Photo)

The Big Sky race was an entertaining one down the stretch as it tends to be, with three teams fighting for the title and others working to make sure that they weren’t left without a seat when the music stopped (four teams don’t qualify). Montana and Eastern Washington shared the crown, with the Grizzlies getting the top seed and the right to host the event. In addition to those two Sacramento State will be heard from, and Northern Arizona has the pieces needed to make a run as well. This should make for an entertaining weekend in Missoula.

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The Bracket


MORENBCSports.com’s 2015 Conference Tournament Previews

When: March 12-14

Where: Dahlberg Arena (Missoula, Montana)

Final: March 14, 9:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

Favorite: Montana

The Griz have talented players, led by guard Jordan Gregory and forward Martin Bruenig, but this pick is more about defense and home-court advantage. Montana was the best defensive team in the Big Sky in conference games, as they led the way in scoring, field goal percentage and three-point percentage defense. They were also tops in defensive efficiency (per kenpom.com) by a considerable margin. Playing at home will help, but the biggest reason why Montana should be seen as the favorites is the fact that they can defend.

And if they lose?: Eastern Washington

Jim Hayford’s Eagles averaged just over 80 points per game in conference games, and per kenpom.com they were the most efficient offensive team in the Big Sky. Tyler Harvey can light it up from the perimeter, as he’s averaging 22.9 points per game and both Venky Jois (17.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Ognjen Miljkovic (10.2 ppg) also average double figures. In total six players average at least 8.1 points per game for a team that won at Montana in early February.


  • Sacramento State: The Hornets were in the driver’s seat for home court advantage as recently as last week but two losses ended those hopes. Guards Mikh McKinney and Dylan Garrity have been excellent on the perimeter for Brian Katz, and they’re good enough to lead the Hornets to three straight wins.
  • Northern Arizona: Jack Murphy’s Lumberjacks have won six of their last seven games, with the lone defeat coming against a Northern Colorado team they’ll play in the quarterfinals. Quinton Upshur leads the way offensively for a team with three players averaging between 12.8 and 14.4 points per game, and NAU ranked second in the Big Sky in field goal percentage defense in conference games.

Player of the Year: G Mikh McKinney, Sacramento State

Averaging 19.0 points, 5.0 assists and 2.6 steals per game, McKinney is ranked either first or second in the Big Sky in each of those statistical categories. He’s also shooting 51.5 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from beyond the arc for the 19-10 Hornets.

Coach of the Year: Brian Katz, Sacramento State

Katz’s Hornets were expected to be a quality team, as the coaches picked them to finish fourth back in October. But the Hornets exhibited more staying power in the Big Sky race than some may have anticipated, and this is just the fourth winning season in the last 38 years of the program. The 19 wins Sacramento State has right now are the third most in school history for a single season.

All-Big Sky Team:

  • McKinney
  • Tyler Harvey, Eastern Washington: Harvey’s the leading the scorer in the conference, as he’s averaging 22.9 points per game.
  • Kris Yanku, Northern Arizona: Only a sophomore, don’t be surprised if Yanku wins Big Sky POY before his career’s done. He’s averaging 13.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.
  • Martin Bruenig, Montana: Bruenig, who sat out last season after transferring from Washington, averaged 16.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game and shot better than 60 percent from the field.
  • Venky Jois, Eastern Washington: Jois improved his scoring by nearly four points from last season, up to 17.1 ppg while also grabbing 7.6 rebounds and shooting 60.4 percent from the field.

CBT Prediction: Montana caps Travis DeCuire’s first season at the helm with an NCAA tournament appearance, outlasting Eastern Washington in the title game.

Pac-12 Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

Arizona hasn’t won the Pac-12 tournament since 2002 (AP Photo)

For the second consecutive season the Arizona Wildcats convincingly won the Pac-12 regular season title, beating Oregon and Utah by three games. Sean Miller’s team is poised to play well into March and maybe even the first weekend of April, as they have all the qualities that a championship-caliber team possesses. The biggest boosts of the last month have been the improved play of center Kaleb Tarczewski and the bench scoring of Gabe York.

READ MORE: NBC Sports’ latest Bracketology

With leading contributors such as point guard T.J. McConnell and wings Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson, Arizona has the tools needed to win their first Pac-12 tournament title since 2002. The Wildcats will be the clear favorite in Las Vegas, but there are multiple teams that harbor thoughts of winning the title themselves. Utah has one of the nation’s best players in Delon Wright, and Oregon’s headliner is senior guard Joseph Young. Like Arizona, the Utes and Ducks will hear their names called Selection Sunday.

That brings us to the team that’s under the greatest pressure when it comes to the NCAA tournament: UCLA. While the Bruins are the four-seed there’s still work to be done when it comes to their at-large resume, and that’s what makes this week so important for them. Stanford, at one point considered to be a safe bet to return to the NCAA tournament, is now in a spot where they likely need the automatic bid to do so.

While every team has hopes of cutting down the nets Saturday night, there’s a clear favorite to accomplish that. But with Arizona not having the best fortune in this event, it wouldn’t be wise to rule out the field.



MORE: NBCSports.com’s 2015 Conference Tournament Previews

When: March 11-14

Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas

Final: March 14, 11:00 p.m. (ESPN)

Favorite: Arizona

The last time Arizona won this event was in 2002, one year after their most recent Final Four appearance. If any motivation was needed for the Pac-12 tournament the conference’s coaches likely supplied that in their choices for the league’s top individual honors. Point guard T.J. McConnell, the heart and soul of this team, missed out on Pac-12 Player of the Year (Young won that) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson wasn’t named Defensive Player of the Year (Oregon State’s Gary Payton II won). Those two along with Stanley Johnson, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski make up one of the most talented starting units in the country and they’ve received solid contributions from the bench as well.

And if they lose?: Utah

Of Utah’s 13 conference wins just one was by fewer than ten points (at Washington State), but they didn’t finish the regular season playing their best basketball. Larry Krystkowiak’s Runnin’ Utes dropped three of their last five games, and they need junior guard Brandon Taylor to get back on track offensively. This is a group with depth and versatility, and with freshman Jakob Poeltl in the middle there’s skill in the post as well.

Other Contenders:

  • Oregon: Picked to finish eighth the Ducks are the two-seed in Las Vegas, and despite questions about the depth Dana Altman’s received contributions from a number of players. Joseph Young leads the way, but fellow vet Elgin Cook’s been good as have freshmen Jordan Bell and Dillon Brooks.
  • UCLA: Tony Parker’s been their barometer throughout Pac-12 play; when he’s engaged and productive inside the Bruins can be a handful. Norman Parker’s been outstanding and Kevon Looney is one of the best freshmen in the country. The key for UCLA’s guards this week: shot selection. When they remain under control and work the ball inside, good things tend to happen.

Sleeper: Arizona State

Given the number of new pieces it took some time for Herb Sendek’s team to mesh, but they arrive in Las Vegas having won five of their last seven. Tra Holder’s been good at the point as a freshman, and Gerry Blakes, Shaquielle McKissic and Savon Goodman are the leading scorers. They don’t match up particularly well with Utah, which won both meetings comfortably, but they lost two games to Oregon by a total of four points and have wins over Both Arizona and UCLA.

Deeper Sleeper: Stanford

Having lost three in a row and five of their last seven, the Cardinal stagger into Las Vegas. But they have experience in seniors Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown and Stefan Nastic, and Marcus Allen has earned more minutes as the season’s progressed. If Stanford is to have any hope of making a run they need Randle to shoot at a higher clip than the 39.3 percent he’s making for the entire season.

Pac-12 Player of the Year: Delon Wright, Utah

Wright’s one of the most versatile players in the country, as he’s averaging 14.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game game. And despite dealing with defenses that tend to dare him to shoot the three, Wright’s still shooting 52.2 percent from the field.

Pac-12 Coach of the Year: Dana Altman, Oregon

Oregon was picked to finish eighth and wound up tied for second, so from that angle this is an easy choice. And with their resume being what it was in early February, Altman’s Ducks arrive in Las Vegas as a lock to return to the NCAA tournament.

First Team All-Pac-12:

  • Wright
  • T.J. McConnell, Arizona: Competitor. Leader. Winner. McConnell averaged 6.3 assists per game and without him a very talented Arizona team isn’t as good as it currently is.
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona: Averaging 11.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, Hollis-Jefferson is right there with Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein when it comes to the nation’s best (and most versatile) defender).
  • Joseph Young, Oregon: Young was the Pac-12’s leading scorer, averaging 19.8 points per game in addition to 4.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
  • Stanley Johnson, Arizona: The conference’s top freshman is averaging 13.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, leading the Wildcats in both categories.

Second Team All-Pac-12:

  • Tyrone Wallace, California
  • Norman Powell, UCLA
  • Anthony Brown, Stanford 
  • Gary Payton II, Oregon State 
  • Kevon Looney, UCLA 

Defining moment of the season: Gabe York’s offensive rebound in Arizona’s win at Utah

York was at the line for two free throws with Arizona trailing 57-55 with 1:39 remaining, less than 20 seconds after a Brandon Taylor free throw gave the Runnin’ Utes the lead. After making the first free throw, York followed his own miss to give the Wildcats a lead they would not relinquish. That sealed the game and another Pac-12 title for the Wildcats.

CBT Prediction: The motivated Wildcats win their first Pac-12 tournament title since 2002, beating Utah in the final.