Pac-12 Predictions: What can we expect at March Madness?
Three teams in the Pac-12 Conference received bids on Selection Sunday to play in the big dance.
- Oregon (23-12) earned the conference's automatic bid after defeating Washington in the Pac-12 championship game on Saturday. No. 11 Oregon is riding an eight-game winning streak heading into the tournament and will face No. 5 seed Wisconsin in the South Region on Friday.
- Washington, the Pac-12's regular-season champions, received an at-large bid and will compete in the Midwest Region as a No. 9 seed. The Huskies will face No. 8 seed Utah State in Ohio on Friday.
- After beating No. 11 St. John's in the First Four, Arizona State will advance to play No. 6 Buffalo, ASU head coach Bobby Hurley's former team, on Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Now that the field has been set, how do our NBC Sports experts think the Pac-12 will perform? Let's take a look.
Ducks Insider Bri Amaranthus
Thanks to a favorable draw, close proximity and an extra day to prepare… The Ducks could be headed to the sweet 16. I know that sounds crazy but hear me out. Oregon and Wisconsin have similarities in slow offensive pace and a stingy defense. If the Ducks can come up with a plan to slow down Wisconsin’s top offensive player and four-year starter, Ethan Happ, I predict Oregon will win its first round matchup.
Then I think its possible the Ducks beat No. 13 seed UC-Irvine (who I’m picking to upset No. 4 seed Kansas State) to make it to the sweet 16. The Anteaters are the best rim-protecting team in the nation, holding opponents to 44 percent shooting and 0.9 points per possession. Oregon would likely face No.1 seed Virginia and lose.
I think Washington will have a tough time with MWC champion Utah State Aggies, who are on a 10-game winning streak, and won’t make it past the first round. The Huskies’ scoring has been very inconsistent as of late, which was displayed in the Pac-12 Tournament championship.
My prediction is Arizona State will get past St. John's in the First Four game and lose in the first round. Once getting past St. John’s, the Sun Devils would face No. 6 seed Buffalo, who won the Mid-American Conference tournament. Hurley used to coach at Buffalo.
Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes
I expect Washington to win a game.
And I expect Oregon to get a couple of wins – Dana Altman will get them two. Not sure they have the talent to get much further than that.
And that’s it for the Pac-12. ASU loses right away.
Blazers Reporter Jamie Hudson
It’s crazy to think that the Pac-12 only has three teams in the NCAA tournament this season and Arizona State was one of the First Four play-in games.
Of the Power Six conferences, the Pac-12 has the fewest teams by far in this year’s tournament and since this year the conference struggled to be that much competition for Oregon and Washington, I don’t see these two teams faring all that well. However, the Ducks could make some noise since they’re riding high after beat the Huskies in the conference title game.
I could see Oregon surprising some people and making it to the Sweet 16, but all in all, I don’t think people should expect much from the Pac-12 this tournament.
Seahawks Insider Aaron Fentress
The Pac-12 shouldn't do very well in the NCAA Tournament. No. 9 Washington will be lucky to get by No. 8 Utah State in the Midwest and certainly won't overcome No. 1-seed North Carolina in the second round. If Arizona State reaches the field of 64, its clock will instantly start ticking and will expire after one win, at the most.
Oregon is intriguing given it's hot stretch of eight wins propelled by a suffocating defense. But Wisconsin is better than every team Oregon defeated during that stretch - and for the entire season, for that matter, so the Ducks' magical run could very well end in the first round. But certainly the Ducks will be done by the second round.
Blazers Outsider Chirs Burkhardt
As for the Pac-12 teams (ASU, UW, and UO), I have them all getting to the round of 32, but not much further. Oregon put together a nice run in the Pac-12 tournament, but I just don't see them sustaining that success.
As for ASU and UW, both are good enough for a Cinderella type story, but just not good enough for me to put full faith in them making a deep run.
For the sake of the Pac-12, I hope I'm wrong...