There are four teams from the Pac-12 in this year's NCAA Tournament. How many will be left next week? We investigate, plus who is the biggest threat to Arizona reaching the Elite Eight?
1. What team in Arizona's half of the West bracket are you most concerned about?
Bryan Doherty: Baylor without question. The Bears all season long have done the one thing Arizona generally can count on having an edge in: rebound. So much of Arizona's success is based off not giving up second chance points and at the same time winning on the offensive glass. The Bears are among the best offensive rebounding teams in America, are big and have the ability with their zone to make Arizona win with jumpshots while still being able to rebound, something most other teams can't do simultaneously vs Arizona. I don't think Baylor would have enough offense to beat Arizona but it's a game I easily could see coming down to the final five minutes.
David Potts: Ohio State. I think Baylor is a better team, but a potential match-up with Ohio State will happen so early in the tournament that I worry they'll be overlooked. Ohio State is the 21st ranked team in the tournament according to KenPom and is one of the most under-seeded teams in the tournament, and Arizona needs to take them seriously to avoid an early elimination.
Gabe Encinas: Probably VCU, the most sneaky 7-seed of all time. A full court press all game long could give this team trouble. Of course Wisconsin and Baylor will be tough, but I'm more concerned about making it out of the first weekend before we think about potential matchups down the road.
Zach Tennen: Assuming Baylor can win its first two games, which is far from a given, the Bears would likely present the biggest challenge for Arizona. However, Ohio State has the coaching and athletes to at least stay within single digits. I see it as a big plus for Arizona if VCU beats the Buckeyes because I don't think VCU is capable of hanging with the Cats.
Steven Rodriguez: Baylor has to make some fans nervous. They play excellent team basketball; their defense and physical play should travel well. It will be interesting to see how Sean Miller's squad match up with such a similar team.
Lewis Krell: Pre-Elight Eight, the team that scares me the most is Ohio State. This is solely because the Buckeyes have something that almost no one else in the country has; a top-5 NBA prospect. The only reason to fear Ohio State is because D'Angelo Russell is that good and if he gets really hot, Ohio State could give Arizona a good fight. Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see them get bounced on the first day by VCU and I also wouldn't be surprised to see the Cats beat Ohio State by 20. You can never take anything for granted in March but our half of the West bracket looks pretty good to me.
2. How many Pac-12 teams do you think make it to the Sweet 16?
BD: Two, Arizona and Utah. Oregon got a tough draw as an eight-seed with Wisconsin. Had they been a six or seven seed I would've considered their style of play, recent hot streak and Joe Young as something to consider in a round two upset. Still, they aren't nearly as good as the team who played Wisconsin a year ago. UCLA might be able to win a game but I don't see them getting past Iowa State. Utah has struggled down the stretch and an opening weekend loss wouldn't stun me at all but I simply am putting my faith in them that they can beat a mid-major with a geographically favorable opening pod and get by either another mid-major or a Georgetown team who is notorious March chokers lately. Now or never, Delon.
DP: Two -- Arizona and Utah. While I worry slightly about Ohio State in the second round, Arizona will likely advance to the Sweet 16. Utah will have a tougher-than-expected match-up in the first round against Stephen F. Austin, but Georgetown is soft as far as 4-seeds go and I still think Utah is very good, so I expect they'll make it to the second weekend. Oregon, on the other hand, would have to beat Oklahoma State and Wisconsin to advance, and I doubt they'll even get past Oklahoma State. And while I think UCLA is talented enough to deserve their spot in the tournament, they'll probably lose to SMU in the first round as well.
GE: Realistically, two with Arizona and Utah. Utah has proven they can't win games when it matters but they have a favorable road.
ZT: I see two of the four Pac-12 teams advancing to the Sweet Sixteen although nothing would surprise me that much. Utah could have a favorable path to get there depending on what happens in the first couple rounds. Arizona should not have much of an issue getting there. Oregon's in a really tough situation as it would run into Wisconsin should it beat Oklahoma State. Although I am not taking UCLA to the Sweet Sixteen, I think the Bruins are extra motivated to go far in this tournament just because every critic seems to write them off.
SR: Depending how hot they are, the Pac-12 can get up to 3 teams into the Sweet 16: Arizona, Utah, and UCLA. Arizona and Utah should not have a problem advancing just based on talent. UCLA is talented enough to make some noise throughout this tournament and could, thanks to a favorable draw.
LK: One. I think Arizona, just like they have all season, will be the only reason anyone will pay attention to the Pac-12. I have UCLA and Oregon going down right away and I think Utah is also ripe for an upset before the Sweet Sixteen. I have not been as impressed by Utah as the rest of the country seems to be. We've seen Utah's absolute hardest punch they can throw and it still wasn't enough to win a home game, in front of a wild crowd, on a night when Arizona played one of it's worst offensive games all year. I don't trust this Utah team to do any damage in March.
Ryan Kelapire: Two. Utah and Arizona. I think UCLA will lose to SMU in the first round, and Oregon will lose in the Round of 32 to Wisconsin.