The Pac-12 Tournament is now almost over, with 10 out of 11 games played. The Arizona Wildcats and USC Trojans will play Saturday night for the Pac-12 crown and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Here’s what went down in the semifinals.
Arizona 78, UCLA 67 (OT)
Perhaps the most exciting game of the Pac-12 Tournament so far, the Wildcats and Bruins put on a show in T-Mobile Arena on Friday. The star power was very clear, especially in the low post.
UCLA big man Thomas Welsh took the spotlight from Aaron Holiday, recording an incredible 17 points and 17 boards, giving UCLA the push it needed to force overtime. Somehow, Welsh was outshined down low by Arizona star Deandre Ayton. Ayton recorded a career-high 32 points and 14 rebounds, including 10 of 11 Wildcat points in the overtime period.
UCLA shouldn’t have to sweat too much come Selection Sunday.
USC 74, Oregon 54
The Ducks’ quasi-Cinderella run ended in the second semifinal of the night, with USC thoroughly dominating Oregon late. It might not have been the tight matchup in the previous game, but it reminded us how fun an Andy Enfield team can be when they’re playing well.
Jonah Mathews was the star, scoring 27 points on 8-of-10 shooting (he made seven 3s.) Thanks to his performance, among others, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to picture March Madness without the Trojans. On the other hand, Oregon’s chance to become a bid thief is over. While it wasn’t the prettiest year coming off a Final Four appearance, Oregon is set up well to be a force next season, so their fans should be excited for the future.
After Friday’s action, the bubble in the conference still has three teams in range of the cutline. With the Trojans win, they’ve probably passed their crosstown rivals as the second-safest team on the bubble.
Despite this, it’s hard to see either Los Angeles school not competing in the NCAA Tournament next week. Both have solid resumes, and this week has shown that they have the talent to compete.
Arizona State is the team closest to the boundary. The Sun Devils have lost a lot of games in January and February, and it’s very possible the committee leaves them out despite impressive non-conference wins. ASU will probably be sweating it out until the moment the Selection Show reveals the bracket.
Arizona and USC will match up on Saturday night at 7 p.m. PT. They are two top-seeded teams in the tournament so it should make for an exciting game. KenPom gives Arizona a 57 percent chance of winning, with a projected score of 76-74.