Pac-10 tournament facts
Everything you need to know about the Pac-10 men's basketball tournament.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Forecasting the Pac-10 tournament
Teams with the most to lose: USC and Arizona were each expected to be NCAA tournament teams before the season began, but at 9-9 and tied for fifth in the Pac-10, they are on the bubble. USC might need to win the Pac-10 tourney to get an invite; Arizona might be in with just one or two wins. Arizona has a streak of 24 straight NCAA tourney appearances. Not making the NCAA will be a huge disappointment for either team.
Teams with the most to gain: Washington and WSU. If the Huskies win the Pac-10 tournament, they might climb as high as a No. 2 seed for the NCAA tournament. WSU is 16-14 overall and 8-10 in Pac-10 play and considered likely to get an NIT spot. But a few wins would ensure a bid.
Players to watch: Arizona State's James Harden won the player-of-the-year award, but especially in Seattle, not everyone was convinced after the Sun Devils faded at the stretch. He can reassert his worthiness for the award by leading a long ASU run.
Washington freshman Isaiah Thomas says he loves the big stage and seems annoyed he didn't make it onto the all-conference first team.
Arizona's Jordan Hill, who some think might be the best player in the conference, will have to come up big for UA to make a long run and secure an NCAA tourney bid.
Matchups to watch: Arizona-Arizona State on Thursday: ASU won both meetings by a combined eight points; UCLA-WSU on Thursday (assuming the Cougars beat Oregon): WSU essentially cost UCLA a share of the Pac-10 title with the upset win in Pauley last month; UW vs. Arizona or Arizona State on Friday: Assuming form holds, UW will have to face one of the two Arizona schools in the semifinals. Each of the Arizona schools left Seattle two weeks ago feeling they could easily have beaten the Huskies.
Our pick: Washington won the regular-season title, and that usually means someone else will win the tournament. Our pick is a boring one — UCLA. The Bruins will be fired up to win a title of some kind after being denied the regular-season crown for the first time since 2005, and have a recent history of playing well in this tournament, where they have more of a home-court edge than anyone else.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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