Pac-12 Tournament Title Preview: Ionescu, Oregon hope to seal spectacular season with tourney win

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 24 Women’s Oregon at Stanford Sabrina Ionescu looks to lead the Ducks to their second Pac-12 tournament title in program history. | Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The No. 3 Oregon Ducks clinched their third-straight regular-season Pac-12 title. Now, they must go through the upset-seeking No. 7 Stanford Cardinal for the tournament title.

The No. 3 Oregon Ducks (28-2, 17-1 Pac-12) are the runaway favorite to win the Pac-12 Tournament after having won the conference in the regular season in the past three seasons. However, the Ducks failed to repeat as tournament champions in 2019 thanks to the Stanford. The Ducks will have been firing on all cylinders since their loss to Arizona State.

The top six teams in the conference will be in the tournament with the bottom six out of the tournament unless they can pull off the unthinkable to earn the automatic bid.

The No. 7 Stanford Cardinal (25-5, 14-4 Pac-12) and the No. 8 UCLA Bruins (25-4, 14-4 Pac-12) are on the same side of the bracket in the tournament. Both teams are easily in the NCAA Tournament but the difference between a No. 2 and No. 3 seed could be which team reaches the final.

The No. 13 Arizona Wildcats (23-6, 12-6 Pac-12) is currently slated for a No. 4 seed based on the Top 16 released Mar. 16. The Wildcats face the winner of the No. 24 Arizona State Sun Devils (20-10, 10-8 Pac-12) and the California Golden Bears (11-18, 3-14 Pac-12). Based on ESPN’s Bracketology, Arizona State is slated as a No. 6 seed, which is likely to stick as long as they do not lose to Cal. The Golden Bears would need a miracle to get into the tournament.

The Utah Utes (13-16, 6-12 Pac-12) and Washington Huskies (13-16, 5-13 Pac-12) play for the right to face the Ducks in the quarterfinals. The Utes lost five of their last six games to finish the regular season. The Huskies beat the Bruins at home but ended the season with losses to Oregon State and Oregon.

The No. 14 Oregon State Beavers (22-8, 10-8 Pac-12) face the Washington State Cougars (11-19, 4-14) with the winner moving to face the Cardinal. The Cougars have lost have their last seven, including a 15-point loss against the Beavers to close out the regular season. The Beavers’ 10-8 conference record is a testament to how good the Pac-12 has been in 2020.

The USC Trojans (16-13, 8-10 Pac-12) face the the Colorado Buffaloes (16-13, 5-13), either of which will face UCLA in the next round. USC’s signature wins of the season occurred at home against UCLA and Oregon State. The Buffaloes beat the Wildcats a few weeks ago, but most recently suffered a loss to the Trojans.


Pac-12 Tournament Schedule

All games at Mandalay Events Center, Las Vegas, NV.

First Round — Thursday, March 5, 2:30 p.m. ET

Game 1: No. 5 Arizona State vs. No. 12 California Golden Bears, 2:30 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

Game 2: No. 8 Utah Utes vs. No. 9 Washington Huskies, 5 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

Game 3: No. 7 USC Trojans vs. No 10 Colorado Buffaloes, 9 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Networks)

Game 4: No. 6 Oregon State vs. No. 11 Washington State Cougars, 11:30 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

Quarterfinals — Friday, March 6, 2:30 p.m. ET

Game 5: No. 4 Arizona Wildcats vs. Game #1 winner, 2:30 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

Game 6: No. 1 Oregon Ducks vs. Game #2 winner, 5 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

Game 7: No. 2 UCLA Bruins vs. Game #3 winner, 9 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

Game 8: No. 3 Stanford Cardinal vs. Game #4, 11:30 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

Semifinals— Saturday, March 7, 9 p.m. ET

Game 9: Game #5 winner vs. Game #6, 9 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

Game 10: Game #7 winner vs. Game #8 winner, 11:30 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

Final — Sunday, March 8, 8 p.m. ET

Final: Game #9 winner vs. Game #10, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)