By Chase Phillips
Basketball legend and ESPN color commentator Bill Walton constantly lauds the Pac-12 as the “Conference of Champions.”
This year, that is definitely not the case. Washington is the only lock to get in the NCAA tournament, and the rest of the field is simply looking to get in by winning the tournament this weekend and clinching the at-large bid.
Player to Watch: Luguentz Dort.
Fans have talked often about all the great freshmen in college basketball this year, but many have overlooked Dort.
Dort, underrated prospect coming out of high school in Canada, has led Arizona State to the bubble of the NCAA tournament. The 6-foot-4 guard has been the Sun Devils best player averaging 16 points a game, and guarding the opposing teams’ best player on the defensive end.. If Arizona State wins this tournament and find their way into the tournament, it will be because Dort has a fantastic weekend.
Team to Watch: Washington Huskies.
While there hasn’t been much to watch in the Pac-12 this year overall, the Huskies have been a nice surprise. With an impressive 24-7 overall record and 15-3 mark in conference play, they have been the alpha this season. Led by second-year head coach Mike Hopkins, as well as the play of Jaylen Nowell, Noah Dickerson, and Pac-12 defensive player of the year Matisse Thybulle, the Huskies are a very physical defensive team who can guard and stay with almost any team in the nation.
They’re fun to watch, and even if they can play with anyone, they have been very prone to playing down to their opponents. This team could easily be in the championship- but could also easily be bounced in the first round, too.
Sleeper: Colorado Buffaloes.
Colorado is one of the hottest teams in the Pac-12- it ended the season by winning 8 of its last 10. They finished the year 19-11 overall with 10-8 record in conference play, they have also one of the easiest roads to the Pac-12 championship game. They are one of them most balanced teams in the conference, Tyler Bey does lead the team with 13 points a night but they also have three guys who are in double figures each night. They might not win the whole tournament but if you want a team that could make some noise and could possibly be a bid stealer look no further then this team.
Predicted Champion: Arizona State Sun Devils.
Arizona State is a team that needs wins to establish themselves in the tournament- but are definitely going to come out with a lot of fire and passion. Guard play is very crucial in March, and between Dort and Remy Martin the Sun Devils can match any guards in nation. Head coach Bobby Hurley will have his guys ready to go for this exciting weekend, and I am expecting a big weekend from the team in Gold and Red.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org