NCAA Conference Tournament Preview: Pac-12

Place: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas

Format: 12 teams, top four seeds get bye into quarterfinals

Top Seed: Oregon Ducks – After advancing to the Elite Eight and bringing back the majority of their team, there was plenty of hype surrounding Oregon coming into the season. They have lived up to it by winning the competitive Pac 12 regular season championship (shared with Arizona). Forward Dillon Brooks is the leader of the team and is averaging 16.0 points. He hit a pair of game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointers against UCLA and California. Brooks is paired with Chris Boucher (12.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks) and Jordan Bell (10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks) in the froutcourt. Sixth-year guard Dylan Ennis and Tyler Dorsey provide perimeter firepower.

Dark Horse: USC Trojans – The Pac 12 is top heavy with three powerhouse teams in Oregon, Arizona, and UCLA, so it is a little hard to pick a darkhorse. The sixth-seeded Trojans qualify because they have had a solid season that includes a Jan. 25 win over the crosstown Bruins, who they will play if they can beat Washington in the first round. After losing four straight (including three straight games against the top three teams), the Trojans closed the season by defending their homecourt against the Washington teams. Forward Bennie Boatwright missed half the season with a knee injury, but scored at least 20 points in four of his eight games since returning. Freshman Chimezie Metu had a nice season (14.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.6 blocks). Guard Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart combined for 25 points and hit better than 40 percent of their 3-pointers.

Player to Watch: Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA Bruins – It is rare that a player can join a program laden with upperclassmen and change the entire team. The 6-6 Ball turned the Bruins into an offensive machine by possessing excellent court vision and the ability to make his teammates better offensively. He led the nation with 7.8 assists and provided 14.9 points and 6.2 rebounds. Ball had 11 double-doubles (six with assists, five with rebounds), so he makes for a potential triple-double player in March. The Bruins will face the winner of the USC-Washington game and head into the postseason with a nine-game winning streak.

Click here for Perry’s full breakdown of ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, SEC & Pac-12 conference tournaments.