After the 10-12th seeds scored upsets in the first day of the 2012 Pac-12 women's basketball tournament, the second day might be defined by a few times looking to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
Although the California Golden Bears are pretty much a lock to make the tournament, the Arizona State Sun Devils and USC Women of Troy are bubble teams looking to improve their chances at making it all.
Day 2 Schedule
All times PST. Click here to watch every game via the Pac-12's YouTube site.
Game 5: (8) Washington Huskies vs. (1) Stanford Cardinal - Noon (statistical matchup)
Game 6: (12) Arizona Wildcats vs. (4) Arizona St. Sun Devils - 2:15 p.m. (statistical matchup)
Game 7: (10) Colorado Buffaloes vs. (2) California Golden Bears - 5 p.m. (statistical matchup)
Game 8: (11) Washington St. Cougars vs. (3) USC Women of Troy - 7:15 p.m. (statistical matchup)
Brief previews and players to watch
Game 5: (8) Washington Huskies vs. (1) Stanford Cardinal
The first game of the day may well be the least significant of the day: Stanford's NCAA tournament bid is relatively secure and Washington hasn't beaten the Cardinal since 2005.
Nevertheless, Huskies freshman Jazmine Davis alone makes this one worth watching.
In a 72-56 win over the Oregon Ducks yesterday, the 2012 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year had among the best games of her career without even making a 2-point shot. Davis hit a career-high 7 3-pointers after shooting just 3-for-17 in the previous three games. Davis is obviously unlikely to repeat that kind of performance, but she's a dynamic scorer who certainly has a bright future with the Huskies.
Game 6: (12) Arizona Wildcats vs. (4) Arizona St. Sun Devils
Arizona overcame a rather poor rebounding effort to gut out a 61-57 first round win over the UCLA Bruins, who lost all three meetings to the last place Wildcats this season.
But facing in-state rival Arizona State should pose more of a challenge today after beating Arizona twice already this season. While ASU was the second-worst offense in terms of points per possession during conference play, UA was the second-worst defensive team in terms of points allowed per possession during conference play; something had to give and in their last meeting on the final day of the regular season, ASU had one of their best offensive games of conference play.
The common factor in each of those first two games was turnovers, with a 27.7% turnover rate being the primary reason for the Wildcats' loss in the first meeting. Given that, the player to watch for the Wildcats is dynamic junior guard Davellyn Whyte, who is an outstanding scorer but extremely turnover-prone: she had a season-high 7 turnovers yesterday and averaged 5.5 turnovers in two games against ASU already this season.
However, the most interesting aspect of this game - for those with no rooting interest in the rivalry - is that ASU still has an outside chance at earning an at-large NCAA Tournament bid if they can string together a couple of wins in this conference tournament. That will be difficult with Stanford likely being the next opponent and no high-quality wins on their resume, but their quest for post-season play will begin with trying to pull off a convincing win against UA.
Game 7: (10) Colorado Buffaloes vs. (2) California Golden Bears
Cal beat Colorado rather comfortably in two games this season and one might expect that again after the Buffaloes' performance against the Utah Utes yesterday - neither team shot above 30% from the field and Utah's 14.7% offensive rebounding percentage is indicative of a team overwhelmed in the paint.
Rebounding is by far Cal's biggest strength and their ability to control the glass against Colorado will probably be the difference in this game.
However, the player to watch for Cal will probably by freshman point guard Brittany Boyd, who will be playing in her first Pac-12 tournament after being a significant part of Cal's rise to second in the Pac-12 and a likely NCAA Tournament bid. After seemingly hitting her stride around mid-season, Boyd has shot only 25.71% from the field in her past six games, including a frustrating 3-for-15 performance against the Cardinal on Sunday.
Cal isn't playing for their NCAA Tournament lives as some other teams might be - they should be a lock for the tournament with a 31 RPI - but the conference tournament provides them an opportunity to build some momentum going in and solidify their seeding going in.
For more on Cal, visit SB Nation's California Golden Blogs.
Game 8: (11) Washington St. Cougars vs. (3) USC Women of Troy
USC, on the other hand, needs a couple of wins to find their way into the NCAA Tournament and beating WSU to earn a chance at Cal - who they've already beaten twice this season - could significantly improve their resume, which includes a few glaring blemishes despite entering the tournament having won six straight games.
The player to watch is versatile senior guard Briana Gilbreath, a WNBA prospect who can influence a game in ways that don't show up in the stats. Against a guard-heavy team like Washington State Gilbreath's presence becomes even more important. In USC's second meeting against WSU just last weekend, WSU's starting guard trio of April Cook, Katie Grad, and Jazmine Perkins combined to shoot 3-for-17 in a 65-54 loss in Pullman. Gilbreath is no small part of what forces that kind of shooting performance to happen, not only with her on-ball defense but also her ability to play off the ball and help force teams into poor shots.
Although their two meetings were different in many ways,WSU will need to have a superlative game to overcome USC's talent, which includes guard Ashley Corral, Cassie Harberts and Christina Marinacci who have had strong games against WSU this season.
Click here to download a printable bracket. For more on the tournament, visit the conference's 2012 Pac-12 conference tournament website. For game-by-game statistics, visit WBB State's Pac-12 conference tournament page.