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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Three teams is safe bet for Pac-12 in NCAA tournament

The 2011-12 season is winding down and NCAA Tournament talk is beginning to surface. ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi is the most popular man in Bristol, Conn., and college basketball fans across the country wait on pins and needles to see who’s on the bubble or the first four in.

So with seven games and a Pac-12 Tournament remaining on the schedule, where does Arizona stand in the field of 68?

Here’s a look at the conference’s top four teams and what each team has to do to get on the selection committee’s good side and land in the big dance:

Washington:

Barring a meltdown, the Huskies should be among the conference’s top two seeds. With Tony Wroten, Terrence Ross and CJ Wilcox they’re top to bottom the most talented team in the conference, having won eight of their last nine games. The only thing that could keep UW out of the tournament would be its poor non-conference performance — losses to Saint Louis, Nevada and South Dakota State — and less than impressive list of wins in conference. But the Huskies have one of the most favorable schedules in the conference with Oregon, Oregon State, ASU, Arizona, Washington State, USC and UCLA remaining, making them more or less a lock to make the tournament.

RPI: 75

Good wins: 69-67 at Arizona

Bad losses: 77-64 at Saint Louis, 76-73 at Nevada and 92-73 vs. South Dakota State

Productive losses: 79-77 vs. No. 11 Marquette and 86-80 vs. No. 5 Duke

Lunardi’s current prediction: 11-seed

DW final seed prediction: 10-seed

California:

While Washington sits atop the conference and may very well win the regular season title, Cal has the best resume. Its RPI is head and shoulders above the rest of the Pac-12, having faced Missouri, San Diego State and UNLV in non-conference play. The Golden Bears are well coached, experienced, and feature three of the better guards in the conference in Allen Crabbe, Jorge Gutierrez and Justin Cobbs. Cal does have a few ugly losses in conference, but it should take care of its remaining seven games to earn the highest seed out of the conference. Even if Cal falters a bit down the stretch, it’s still virtually a lock for the big dance thanks to its RPI.

RPI: 47

Good wins: 57-50 vs. Colorado, 69-66 at Washington and 77-60 at Oregon

Bad losses: 92-85 at Oregon State, 77-75 at Washington State, 92-53 vs. No. 21 Missouri and 85-68 at No. 23 UNLV

Productive losses: 64-63 at San Diego State

Lunardi’s current prediction: 10-seed

DW final seed prediction: 8-seed

Colorado:

CU is as much on the bubble as any team in the country. After being snubbed a season ago, the Buffs virtually control their own destiny as they play Arizona on Thursday and get Cal, which they’re tied with for second, at home in late February. Colorado has all the tools to sneak into the tournament, but its remaining schedule is brutal. Arizona could avenge its late-January loss tonight in McKale Center, which would push the Buffs further out of the picture. If Arizona gets the win, CU falls to Cal and splits the Oregon schools on the road, the Buffaloes will have to win the Pac-12 Tournament to make the field of 68. With that said, their chances are the worst among the conference’s top four teams.

RPI: 73

Good wins: 87-69 vs. Washington, 64-63 vs. Arizona and 82-60 vs. Oregon State

Bad losses: 67-58 vs. Wichita State, 65-54 at Colorado State and 65-64 at Wyoming

Productive wins: 78-71 vs. Maryland

Lunardi’s current prediction: Next Four Out

DW final seed prediction: National Invitational Tournament

Arizona:

If the Wildcats can defeat Colorado tonight and take care of Utah, Wazzu, USC, UCLA and ASU, they can afford a road loss to UW and still make the tournament. With that likely scenario in place, Arizona should go dancing in March. The Wildcats are the best defensive team in the conference and that will continue to carry them throughout the remainder of the season. Sean Miller knows the right time for his teams to peak, and coming off a road sweep of the Bay Area schools, that time appears to be now. Arizona features the second-best RPI in the conference and will most likely be the third and final Pac-12 team to make the NCAA Tournament.

RPI: 64

Good wins: 83-76 at New Mexico State, 78-74 at Cal and 81-72 at St. John’s

Bad losses: 59-57 vs. Oregon, 65-58 at UCLA, and 61-57 vs. San Diego State

Productive losses: 78-72 at Florida, 67-57 vs. Mississippi State and 71-60 at Gonzaga

Lunardi’s current prediction: 12-seed/last four in

DW final seed prediction: 12-seed

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