The Pac-12 tournament gets under way Wednesday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Day 1 schedule:
No. 9 Oregon State vs. No. 8 Washington State, noon
No. 12 USC vs. No. 5 UCLA, 2:30 p.m.
No. 10 Arizona State vs. No. 7 Stanford, 6 p.m.
No. 11 Utah vs. No. 6 Colorado, 8:30 p.m.
No. 2-seeded Cal plays Thursday at 6 p.m. against the winner of the Stanford-ASU game.
Here’s how each team shapes up and their odds of winning:
* WASHINGTON (21-9, 14-4): The top-seeded Huskies are 2-time defending champs in the event and have the athletes to win again. They’ll be motivated after losing at UCLA and determined to improve their NCAA seeding. Odds: 3-1.
* OREGON (22-8, 13-5): Only one of the five teams at the top of the standings entering last week emerged without a loss. It was the Ducks, who have momentum and enough depth to pull this off. Odds: 4-1.
* CAL (23-8, 13-5): Jorge Gutierrez is the key because he facilitates everything Cal does at both ends. If he can relax and play like the Pac-12 Player of the Year, the Bears can beat anyone in the league. At the very least, the Bears would be well-served to win once and convince the NCAA selection committee they deserve a bid. Odds: 6-1.
* ARIZONA (21-10, 12-6): The Wildcats have won seven of their past nine, but it’s hard to have much confidence in a team that just allowed 87 points to Arizona State. Senior Kyle Fogg is playing super basketball for the Wildcats, but I’m not sure I trust those freshman guards. Odds: 10-1.
* UCLA (18-13, 11-7): The Bruins seemed to discover the notion of pride after the SI story last week. It’s about time. They get a “bye” against USC, then would face Arizona. A win there would only get them half the way to the title. Stamina will be an issue — especially for Joshua “18 minutes per game” Smith. Odds: 15-1.
* COLORADO (19-11, 11-7): The Buffaloes are the only team in the conference with wins over Cal, Washington, Oregon and Arizona. As long as they don’t have to play Stanford, they’ve got a chance. If only the tournament were being played at 5,340-foot elevation. Odds: 15-1.
* STANFORD (20-10, 10-8): Can Stanford play two good games in a row? They may not have to, given a first-round date vs. ASU. Cal awaits on Thurdsay and hard to imagine the Bears won’t sense the urgency of the moment and find a way exact revenge on a neutral court. Odds: 20-1.
* OREGON STATE (17-13, 7-11): Somehow, the Beavers lost twice to a Washington State team that has one potent offensive player and not much more. OSU has front-court depth, plus Jared Cunningham. Problem is, the Beavers just don’t play very well most nights. Odds: 30-1.
* WASHINGTON STATE (15-15, 7-11): Junior forward Brock Motum scored 45 points in two games last weekend. His teammates combined for 44. That’s not an equation that works. Odds: 50-1.
* ARIZONA STATE (10-20, 6-12): Good enough to beat Arizona on Sunday, the Sun Devils are riding their first two-game win streak of the season. Amazing. Winning four more in a row seems a bit far-fetched. Odds: 200-1.
* UTAH (6-24, 3-15): The Utes have won one game since Jan. 26 and are 0-15 outside Salt Lake City — the only team from any of the big six conferences without a road or neutral-site victory. That’s all you need to know. Odds: 500-1.
* USC (6-25, 1-17): Sure, they have no players, but this is one of the most feeble offensive teams in conference history. The Trojans have scored less than 50 points 12 times. They had 38 in their most recent game. Odds: Infinity-to-1.