Busting Brackets

Pac-12 basketball: 2024 Conference Tournament preview and predictions

Oregon v Arizona
Oregon v Arizona / Chris Coduto/GettyImages
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The final ride of the Pac-12 conference is coming to an end. The makeup of the conference will look vastly different this time next year with nearly all of the teams finding new homes in conferences across the country. But this distraction didn’t prevent quality basketball from being played up and down the West Coast.

Arizona has not only been the best team in the conference all season but one of the best teams in all of college basketball. Coming into the season, expectations were high for Coach Tommy Lloyd and the Wildcats after an opening-round exit in the NCAA Tournament to finish last season. The Wildcats started the season strong, taking down a handful of ranked teams on the way to a No. 1 ranking, most notably beating No. 2 Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium the second game of the season.

While Arizona was expected to be the class of the Pac-12 this season, few could foresee Washington State rising to the second-best team in the conference. Most predicted the Cougars would finish towards the bottom of the Pac-12 standings after losing 74 percent of the teams scoring from last season. But Coach Kyle Smith brought in a good group of transfers and turned around a WSU program that hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since the 2007-08 season.

For the most part, the conference standings shook out the way most predicted, with Arizona at the top and Oregon State at the bottom, but the biggest shock this season was two teams that failed to meet expectations. USC and UCLA were considered contenders for the Pac-12 title when the season began, but as we all quickly learned neither team was what we thought they would be.

UCLA, last year's regular season champion, struggled mightily on offense, barely averaging 66 points per game. The Bruins started strong, winning five of the first seven games, but that is when the wheels fell off. UCLA did have a winning streak of six games in the middle of conference play, but three different losing streaks of at least four games dashed any chances of being a real threat in the conference.

The Trojans started the season ranked and rose to No. 16 early on. But that was when the wheels started to come off. USC had a ton of talent this year, but all of that talent didn’t translate to the defensive end of the court or wins. The Trojans gave up 80 or more points ten times this season, losing all ten of those games.

The final Pac-12 Tournament should be an exciting one. The top two teams should be expected to advance to the final, but as we’ve seen all season, rankings don’t always matter. The Pac-12 saw its fair share of upsets during the regular season. Washington State upset Arizona twice. Oregon State also took down Arizona.

Will a team other than the two favorites advance? Will a team outside the bubble win their way into the NCAA Tournament? It's hard to predict, but that’s the beauty of college basketball in March… anything can happen.