Previewing the first round of the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament

Despite lower seeded teams, the first round features plenty of competition

The college basketball postseason is officially underway, and that means ASU men’s basketball is preparing for the Pac-12 Tournament that begins on Wednesday, Mar. 7. The No. 9 seeded Sun Devils will duke it out with the No. 8 seeded Colorado Buffaloes on Wednesday. 

However, the Pac-12 Tournament will feature plenty of enticing matchups to keep an eye on.

No. 8 Colorado Buffaloes versus No. 9 ASU Sun Devils

Back in January, Colorado took the Sun Devils to overtime, and ultimately handed ASU its largest conference loss all season (9 points). When the Buffaloes came to Tempe, the tables turned, and senior guards Tra Holder and Shannon Evans II combined for 41 points in ASU’s second-largest Pac-12 victory of the year (14 points).

The Buffaloes have lost of four of their last five game and are led by senior guard George King

Senior leadership is key when it comes to tournament-style basketball, but that doesn’t make up for Colorado’s lack of size in the paint.

(Winner faces No. 1 Arizona Wildcats) 


No. 5 Stanford Cardinal versus No. 12 California Golden Bears

Both contests between these two teams in Pac-12 play were decided by four points or fewer. 

Stanford holds the higher seed, has more talent and greater experience, but it wasn’t enough to sweep Cal this season.

The Cardinal’s junior forward Reid Travis averages 20 points a game to go alongside nearly eight rebounds. 

Despite Travis’ scoring ability, Stanford remains a streaky team. They started conference play off with a loss, then five wins, three losses, followed by two wins and two losses. 

With that in mind the Golden Bears haven’t won a game since Feb. 3, and their win prior to that came on Dec. 30. It would be a shock if Cal suddenly fixed their season-long woes to climb out of the first round.

(Winner faces No. 4 UCLA Bruins) 

No. 7 Washington Huskies versus No. 10 Oregon State Beavers

The Beavers were on the wrong side of a 79-77 game against Washington just last week. 

Huskies junior forward Noah Dickerson was at the helm of UW’s win with 25 points, but his dominance on the stat sheet isn’t a recent development. 

Dickerson has been held under 14 points just once since Feb. 1. 

The Huskies also boast a game-changing duo at guard with freshman Jaylen Nowell (16 points per game) and junior Matisse Thybulle (three steals and one block per game).


The Beavers will look to sophomore forward Tres Tinkle to lead the charge, who has scored a total of 51 points against the Huskies this season.

Although this game doesn’t feature high seeded teams, it may be the most tightly contested game of the first round. 

(Winner faces No. 2 USC Trojans)

No. 6 Oregon Ducks versus No. 11 Washington State Cougars 

The Ducks have a deep group of players that will present several challenges to WSU. Not only do the Cougars have to compete for boards against Oregon senior forward MiKyle McIntosh, but they’ll have to do so while preventing the Ducks’ offense to spark. 

Once Oregon’s offense gets in a groove, good luck, because they have a handful of scorers who have the potential to take over a game.

For Washington State, all hope will be in the hands of junior forward Robert Franks.

Franks is shooting 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from behind the arc. Not bad for a forward who has taken 159 attempts from three-point land this season.

The numbers make the Ducks the clear favorites for this game, but don’t count out a Cougars team that beat Oregon 78-76 last week.  


Reach the reporter at atotri@asu.edu or follow @Anthony_Totri on Twitter.   

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