While the Arizona Wildcats are not yet into the NCAA tournament, they soon will be. The way they can officially get in is to win the Pac-12 tournament. That isn't going to happen, but an at-large bid will await them after the Wildcats dispose of Oregon State on Friday.
The Beavers have a little bit of a problem. If they don't score a lot of points, they're not going to win games. This is why they finished ninth in the Pac-12, in a bad year for the conference.
Washington's defense wasn't strong enough to keep Oregon State in check. Arizona's will be.
The Wildcats have allowed 80 points only once this season. Their defense against UCLA's was quite impressive, allowing fewer than 60. Oregon State does have a good offense, but they won't get to 80, and they won't keep Arizona down as well as UCLA did either.
With a trip to the conference finals, the Wildcats should be fine. Joe Lunardi's most recent bracket for ESPN had the Wildcats just on the outside looking in, but I doubt he was projecting them to move up the Pac-12 ladder.
The selection committee is always a little unpredictable, but they tend to rule in favor of schools like Arizona. In reality, there is a good reason for that. After all, this is a team with a nearly unmatched history of qualifying for the tournament, and they reached the Elite Eight a season ago. If anyone's past has earned them the benefit of a tiebreak, it's the WIldcats.
If Arizona defeats Oregon State but loses in the tournament final, do they belong in the NCAA tournament?
The problem is that if they lose to Oregon State, they're done. There is no way that losing to an unranked team seeded ninth in the tournament will vault them in to the tournament. They haven't earned that luxury.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, that isn't much of a concern. Oregon State matched up very well with the Huskies on Thursday, but that's going to happen again when they take the floor against the Wildcats.
No, Friday's game will have a more reasonable score. Neither team will hit 80, which plays directly into the hands of Arizona. They will move to the finals and will do so in convincing fashion.
Prediction: Arizona 74, Oregon State 62
Tournament Results and Upcoming Schedule
|Round 1 Results (Wednesday, March 7)|
|No. 9 Oregon State 69, No. 8 Washington State 64|
|No. 5 UCLA 55, No. 12 USC 40|
|No. 7 Stanford 85, No. 10 ASU 65|
|No. 6 Colorado 53, No. 11 Utah 41|
Round 2 Results (Thursday, March 8)
|No. 9 Oregon State 86, No. 1 Washington 84|
|No. 5 Arizona 66, No. 4 UCLA 58|
|No. 2 California 77, No. 7 Stanford 71|
|No. 6 Colorado 63, No. 3 Oregon 62|
|Semifinal Schedule (Friday, March 9)||Time (EST)||TV|
|No. 5 Arizona vs. No. 9 Oregon State||9 p.m.||FSN|
|No. 2 California vs. No. 6 Colorado||11:30 p.m.||FSN|
|Finals Schedule (Saturday, March 10)||Time (EST)||TV|
|Semifinal 1 winner vs. Semifinal 2 winner||6 p.m.||CBS|