Some observations from the first day of the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas:
- No surprises: There were no upsets Wednesday night as all of the higher-seeded teams won. This wasn’t the case last year when two lower seeds won — No. 9 ASU and No. 10 Utah.
- But hardly anything was easy for the upper seeds: Three of the four games were even for most of the games, notably the 5/12 and the 6/11 games. No. 12 USC led No. 5 Colorado for much of the second half before the Buffaloes turned around and won 59-56. No. 11 Washington State put up a much similar battle against No. 6 Stanford in the last game of the night.
- No love for Loveridge? Utah sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge didn’t get any All-Pac-12 honors Monday despite averaging 15.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Loveridge seemed deserving of some recognition when he put up 13 points and nine rebounds Wednesday and helped the eighth-seeded Utes defeat ninth-seeded Washington 67-61 in the first game of the tournament.
- Ducks hunting: You know a team is doing well when it wins by 14 points despite its opponent shooting 61 percent. No. 7 Oregon’s incredible late-season comeback continues as it won convincingly over No. 10 Oregon State 74-88, the only blowout on Wednesday. It wasn’t just the Ducks’ offense keying them to victory — Oregon forced the Beavers to turn the ball over 15 times. The Ducks are really starting to be an unstoppable force as they face No. 2 UCLA Thursday.
- Quote of the night: Against Stanford, USC took the lead around the nine-minute mark before going on a scoring drought that lasted nearly five minutes. “Well, it would be nice for someone to make a shot once in a while, and I say that jokingly,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “Our guys get frustrated because they know they’re playing pretty well, they just don’t make the shot. That’s what happened tonight.”
12:00 P.M. — No. 1 UA vs. No. 8 Utah (Pac-12 Networks)
UA swept the regular season series, but Utah gave the Wildcats a scare in both games, including an overtime thriller in Salt Lake City back on Feb. 19. Both fan bases should have excellent turnouts at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for Thursday’s game, which should create an exciting atmosphere.
2:30 P.M. — No. 4 California vs. No. 5 Colorado (Pac-12 Networks)
The only meeting between these two teams was last Saturday when the Golden Bears edged out with a 66-65 win in overtime, which had major seeding implications for the tournament. Both teams are carried by their point guard/big man combo — Cal with redshirt senior point guard Justin Cobbs and senior forward Richard Solomon and Colorado with junior point guard Askia Booker and sophomore forward Josh Scott.
6:00 P.M. — No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 7 Oregon (Pac-12 Networks)
It’s the only the quarterfinal round, but this should be an early candidate for the best matchup of the entire tournament. This is also a battle between the two highest scoring teams in the conference, but each teams’ backcourt can create turnovers at any point of the game.
8:30 P.M. — No. 3 ASU vs. No. 6 Stanford (FOX Sports 1)
The home team won in both games between these two schools. The Sun Devils will look to contain Dwight Powell, as Stanford’s senior forward had a career-high 28 points in the first game in Palo Alto, Calif., on Feb. 1 but only scored 11 in the Feb. 26 game in Tempe. Meanwhile, the Cardinal will likely attempt to lock down ASU redshirt sophomore point guard Jahii Carson, who is averaging 28.8 points per game in Las Vegas.
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