Last year’s Pac-12 run was a fluke, right? It feels right, but isn’t that what March Madness is about? I don’t think the conference will have a similar run to last year that netted three Elite 8 teams, and the biggest surprise being UCLA making the Final Four as an 11 seed. However, this year I think there’s a chance we see the first National Champion since 1997. Let’s look at the conference as we approach the eve of conference tournament play.
Field projections should be straightforward. Each of the ranked teams, Arizona, USC, and UCLA, will make the field. According to Joe Lunardi’s bracketology, Oregon is one of his last four out, and with no remaining games against ranked opponents, it’ll take a hell of a conference run to change their fate. If the standings stay the same, they’d probably need to beat the #1 seed Arizona Wildcats in the semifinals to solidify a spot.
Now on to the money-making slides. Is there anyone worth spending your money on? If we’re looking at Vegas odds, Arizona is the safest National Championship bet at as high as +600 on FanDuel. March is about guard play, and the Wildcats arguably have the best backcourt in the nation. Bennedict Mathurin is really just a dude! He’s projected as a lottery pick in the latest Mike Schmitz mock draft. Averaging 17 a game, he’s a straight-up bucket. The key to their offense is Kerr Kriisa. If Mathurin is the breadwinning father, Kriisa is the stay-at-home mother that makes sure the house and kids are in order. Stats don’t show how important he is.
A friend once told me, “If there’s value, we will find it,” and USC is +9500 to win it all. They’re currently second in the conference being led by Isaiah Mobley, the older brother of probable Rookie of The Year Evan Mobley. They’ve got two transfers in Boogie Ellis from Memphis and Drew Peterson from Rice that help carry the offensive load, but they’re not getting the rose.
The true value from a betting standpoint is the UCLA Bruins. They’re +2800 on FanDuel and have the pedigree to make it back. The USC game this weekend should be an indicator with the Trojans coming off a MASSIVE L at home against Arizona. A win would be a nice momentum builder heading into the conference tournament for the only Final Four team that returns all five of their starters. The fate of the team seems to lie within the hands of Johnny Juzang. The obvious star of the team, and if you look at their season, each loss has coincided with a bad shooting performance apart from the Oregon game. If you believe in Johnny, I’d place some action on UCLA tournament futures for both conference and Final Four.
Last piece of advice, don’t wait until the last minute. Start gathering your TV logins and picking your bars for the madness now. Fewer things are worse than trying to log into TruTV, TNT, CBS, and TNT in the middle of a game, and you have to call your plug for the updated info.