The “Bracket” section of this story has been updated.
When the top seed in a conference tournament beat the two-seed by 40 points, but was beaten by the three-seed and the four-seed, you know there’s a chance for a monumental upset when all of these teams meet again. The question is: Who will be in the best position to deliver it?
Oregon, of course, is the favorite to defend their 2017-18 Pac-12 Tournament title, which they wrapped up by beating Stanford rather easily in the championship game. And “beating Stanford rather easily” summarizes the Ducks’ most impressive win this season, a bludgeoning of the Cardinal on their home court just a month ago.
As the two-seed, though, Stanford has just one more loss on their record than Oregon. The Cardinal also went undefeated this season against both of the teams that handed Oregon their defeats — otherwise known as Oregon State and UCLA, this tournament’s third and fourth seeds, respectively. While it’s clear by now that this particular method of comparing the Ducks and the Cardinal didn’t work out when they actually met, a potential championship rematch should be a much closer game.
But then, it’s the Pac-12, which wouldn’t be as competitive as it is without the teams delivering the upsets. UCLA, for one, recovered from a 2-4 start in conference play to finish 12-6, with a sweep of Utah and that win at Oregon on their record. Meanwhile, fifth-seeded Arizona State beat Oregon State and maintains a No. 20 national ranking.
There’s a clear favorite in this conference, yes. But there are also a handful of teams with the capacity to beat them. That’s what will make this tournament so fun to watch, even if the Ducks prevail once more.
When: Thursday, March 6 — Sunday, March 10
Where: MGM Arena, Las Vegas, NV
How to view: Pac-12 Network, ESPN/ESPN2
In the day’s opening game, Arizona State withstood a third-quarter Colorado run to grab a dominating 66-49 victory. With the win, the Sun Devils notched their sixth consecutive 20-win season, a school record.
Next, Arizona chose a good time to get its largest Pac-12 victory of the season as it beat USC, 76-48. The Wildcats’ staunch defense held the Trojans to 26 percent shooting while they shot 57 percent themselves.
The first evening game saw Cal pull ahead late to put away Washington State, 77-58. It was the Golden Bears’ second win over the Cougars this week, as these teams ended their regular seasons against one another on Sunday.
In the last game of the day, Washington fended off a late Utah run to pull off the 64-54 upset, breaking a four-game losing streak to the Utes. The Huskies shot just 42 percent, but scored 29 points off of 22 Utes turnovers.
No. 12 Colorado Buffaloes vs. No. 5 Arizona State Sun Devils
Thursday, March 7, 2:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
No. 9 USC Trojans vs. No. 8 Arizona Wildcats
Thursday, March 7, 5 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
No. 10 Washington State Cougars vs. No. 7 California Golden Bears
Thursday, March 7, 9 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
No. 11 Washington Huskies vs. No. 6 Utah Utes
Thursday, March 7, 11:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
Although UCLA nearly gave up its sizable halftime lead, the team was able to hang on for the 73-69 victory over Arizona State. Japreece Dean, who learned Thursday that the NCAA granted her an extra year of eligibility, led the way for the Bruins with 24 points.
In Oregon’s first tournament game, the Ducks overcame a slow start to pull away and beat Arizona, 77-63. Ruthy Hebard (points/rebounds) and Sabrina Ionescu (points/assists) had double-doubles to lead Oregon.
In the first evening game, Stanford used a 17-2 run at the end of the fourth quarter to shut down Cal, 72-54. The Cardinal were led by Kiana Williams’ season-high 23 points and held the Golden Bears to 19-for-66 shooting, including Kristine Anigwe’s 4-for-15 from the floor.
The day’s last game saw the biggest upset of the tournament so far, as Washington held on to defeat Oregon State, 68-67. Amber Melgoza was clutch throughout, leading the Huskies with 21 points, but it was Missy Peterson’s three-pointer in the final seconds that sealed the victory. The Huskies became the first 11-seed to advance to a Pac-12 semifinal since Washington State in 2012.
No. 4 UCLA Bruins vs. No. 5 Arizona State Sun Devils
Friday, March 8, 2:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
No. 1 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 8 Arizona Wildcats
Friday, March 8, 5 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
No. 2 Stanford Cardinal vs. No. 7 California Golden Bears
Friday, March 8, 9 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
No. 3 Oregon State Beavers vs. No. 11 Washington Huskies
Friday, March 8, 11:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
It took overtime to get the job done, but Oregon pulled ahead in the extra period to beat UCLA, 88-83. The Ducks avenged their Feb. 22 loss to the Bruins to make their second consecutive Pac-12 championship game. Ruthy Hebard’s 28 points and 12 rebounds led the Ducks in both categories. Meanwhile, Sabrina Ionescu broke the tournament career assists record of 49, ending the game with 54.
In the second semifinal game, Stanford ended Washington’s miracle tournament run in a 72-61 victory. Although the Huskies showed signs of life throughout the game, including winning the second and fourth quarters, the Cardinal’s big first- and third-quarter advantages proved too much to overcome. Four Stanford players scored in double figures, led by double-doubles from Alanna Smith and DiJonai Carrington. Amber Melgoza’s 32 points paced the Huskies.
No. 4 UCLA Bruins vs. No. 1 Oregon Ducks
Saturday, March 9, 9 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
No. 2 Stanford Cardinal vs. No. 11 Washington Huskies
Saturday, March 9, 11:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
After suffering its worst loss in the Tara VanDerveer era to Oregon last month, Stanford turned things around and beat the Ducks for the Pac-12 title, 64-57. DiJonai Carrington led Stanford with 22 points, while tournament Most Outstanding Player Alanna Smith added 20 points and 14 rebounds.
No. 1 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 2 Stanford Cardinal
Sunday, March 10, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2