Day 2 of the Pac-12 Tournament, as expected, proved to be far more interesting to watch than Day 1.
As Pac-12 coaches and players stumbled into this week’s contests, the one thing that everyone agreed on was that because of all of the bad teams involved, anyone had a chance of beating anyone else at any given time. That theory got put on full display early on Thursday (the first game, in fact) when the Oregon State Beavers knocked off the top ranked tourney team in a 69-64 in a thriller. A thriller chalk full of periodically awful basketball, but a thriller nevertheless.
Things went downhill from there, though. UCLA flaming out during the second game of the day wasn’t especially impressive, but was ultimately a fitting end to a bad season. Stanford, mostly as a result of good coaching, put up a strong fight but eventually fell to Cal in unspectacular fashion. Oregon and Colorado, for what it’s worth, did put together a solid showdown to close things out – so there was that bright spot.
All in all, thanks to the bookends, Day 2 of the tournament proved to be better than expected. Of course, whether that was because it was actually solid or because folks have really low expectations for this conference is debatable.
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Now that even more weak teams have been removed from the equation, Day 3 might (read: should) wind up being even better.
Here are Day 3’s showdowns:
No. 4 Arizona Wildcats vs. No. 9 Oregon State Beavers
6:00 p.m. PT on FSN
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Nobody saw the Beavers getting this far. First, they were supposed to lose to Washington State on Wednesday (a team that they had lost to twice already this year). When that didn’t happen, Oregon State’s win got chalked up to being a fluke and dismissed accordingly. On Thursday they were supposedly definitely going to get whipped by Washington (another team that beat them twice before this year). Needless to say, that didn’t happen either. Despite missed free throws and blown leads galore, Oregon State managed to get past the No. 1 ranked team as well.
Now the squad is getting a second look.
Can Arizona ultimately tame the Beavers? Possibly. These two teams met only once in the regular season and in that outing Arizona actually needed overtime to pull off an eight point win. The Wildcats proved themselves to a really solid shooting team versus UCLA on Thursday, but being a good shooting team isn’t the same thing as having size or being strong defensively. Shooting comes and goes.
If Oregon State can speed the game up and get five guys in double figures again on Friday (like they did on Thursday), the Beavers could very easily keep this shocking winning streak going all the way to an eventual Pac-12 tourney win. However, if Arizona dominates the flow of the game in this one – Oregon State’s run is done.
Arizona is -3.5 to win this one.
No. 2 Cal Golden Bears vs. No. 6 Colorado
8:30 p.m. PT on FSN
Oregon was a team that nobody really knew what to expect from in this tournament. You could sort of make the case that because the Ducks were fighting for their postseason lives and given the quality of competition in this tourney, they were one of the favorites. Well, a loss on Thursday night shut the door on that theory.
When it was all said and done, Colorado barely escaped with a tight 63-62 win thanks to being ever so slightly better from the field than the opposition (45 percent to 40 percent), playing fierce defense and a strong effort from Carlon Brown. As expected, the talented youngster came through big when it mattered most with 18 points on seven-of-15 shooting.
Cal had five players score in double figures on Thursday, and when the Bears get that sort of production, it’s hard to envision anyone beating them. If Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp play up to expectations on Friday, this’ll be Cal’s game to lose. That being said, there is a flip side to getting the majority of your production from a select few guys. If the Buffaloes are able to put the clamps down on Gutierrez and any one other Cal contributor, this game could get really, really interesting.
The Golden Bears are -6 in this one.