The Pac-12 Tournament makes its debut at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday, but who will be left standing come Saturday night? With three of the top seven teams in the nation in the field, it should make for a wild hoops weekend here in Las Vegas.
With UCLA and Arizona on the same side of the bracket, the current rivals are expected to square off on Friday night at 8:30 pm PT. (ESPN) in the semifinals.
The Bruins face the winner of Wednesday’s late game between sixth-seeded USC and Washington. The Huskies are expected to advance past the Trojans as 9-point favorites with a game total likely to approach 160.
UCLA’s opening quarterfinal is the late game on Thursday. The third-ranked Bruins, winners of nine-straight, have a key injury heading into the tournament, as freshman forward T.J. Leaf suffered an ankle sprain last Wednesday against Washington.
The Wildcats get the winner of a first-round matchup between Colorado and Washington State in a quarterfinal on Thursday at 6 p.m. The Buffs will be about an 8-point favorite with a total around 145.
Top-seeded Oregon is seeded opposite four-seed Utah. The Ducks open the quarterfinals on Thursday at noon against the winner of Wednesday’s Arizona State-Stanford tourney opener. The nine-seed Stanford is expected to actually come a short-favorite to No. 8 ASU with the total around 150.
Meanwhile, the most susceptible of the top four seeds is obviously the Utes. Utah will likely face No. 5-seed California, barring an upset against Oregon State in their opener. The Golden Bears will be around 14-point favorites with a very low total expected near 116.
That makes Oregon’s likely semifinal opponent trickier to forecast with such a closely-rated quarterfinal matchup expected. The Pac-12 Network will be showing all the games leading up to the championship game Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
While many coming to the desert may have been hoping for a UCLA-Arizona final, they will be disappointed should that possible blockbuster semifinal tilt take too much out of the winner, it could clear the way for the Ducks to make their biggest impression of the season heading into Selection Sunday.
Take Oregon to win the Pac-12 Tournament.
Meanwhile, the MWC tournament gets underway on Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center, including the bottom-seeded Rebels’ first-round matchup with lifeless and beatable San Diego State.
The Aztecs will be favored by around six points with a total near 128. The game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. start and will be streamed on Campus Insiders, which is carrying all three of Wednesday’s first-round games.
Should UNLV advance, or the Aztecs prevail, the winner will face third-seeded Boise State on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.
The tournament begins on Wednesday at 11 a.m. with an 8-9 matchup between Utah State and San Jose State. The Aggies should be about a 4-point choice with the total around 142. The winner faces top-seeded Nevada on Thursday at noon.
At 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday the 7-10 matchup between Wyoming and Air Force shows the Cowboys around -5 and 153. The winner will face No. 2 seed Colorado State at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Thursday’s other quarterfinal has already been set, as No. 4 Fresno State and the 5-seed New Mexico square off at 2:30 p.m. The near pick’em game will have a total around 143.
All of the quarterfinal games are televised on CBS Sports Network.
Friday’s semifinals are at 7 and 9:30 p.m. (CBSSN) with the championship game at 3 p.m. on Saturday (CBS). Take the Wolf Pack of Nevada to win the tourney.
Orleans Arena hosts the Western Athletic Conference Tournament starting Thursday, but missing are the Grand Canyon Antelopes. They become eligible to participate in the postseason in 2018.
New Mexico State brings two of the conference’s best players in Ian Baker and Jemmerio Jones. The Aggies open up a 17-point favorite over Chicago State on Thursday at 4:30 p.m., with the total close to 140.
Top-seed Cal State Bakersfield gets the only bye, facing the winner of the opening game on Thursday (2 p.m.) between Utah Valley and Seattle. Utah Valley is expected to advance as a 6-point choice with a total of 144.
Bakersfield’s semifinal is Friday at 6 p.m. with the second game to follow between the sure-winner Aggies and the winner of the other opening round game, which pits Missouri-Kansas City and Texas Rio Grande. UMKC is favored by 7 with the total up to 167.
The championship game is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Take New Mexico State to upset the Bakersfield in the final.