Pac-12 Tournament 2013: Squads Set to Play Spoiler for UCLA and Oregon

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Pac-12 Tournament 2013: Squads Set to Play Spoiler for UCLA and Oregon
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12 may seem like a weak conference, but to say that UCLA or Oregon is a lock to win the conference tournament is the furthest from the truth. The conference has plenty of under-the-radar squads, and they're hungry to make a statement and earn a spot in the Big Dance.

Not many people have followed the Colorado Buffaloes this season, but their strong rebounding game and decent scoring attack makes them a team that could definitely fight and claw their way to the championship game of the Pac-12 tournament.

The same can be said for the Arizona Wildcats, who, despite a lack of signature wins in conference, are a feisty team that can score points. This is a team that's used to winning, and this year will be no exception.

The Ducks and the Bruins had thus better prepare accordingly, because these teams will stop at nothing to get past them in the Pac-12 tournament and spoil their hopes of a solid tournament seeding.

 

Arizona

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The Wildcats are a team known for being guard-friendly, and Mark Lyons is no exception. In his first season since transferring from Xavier, he has averaged 15.1 points and 3.1 assists per game.

Though not necessarily a pass-first guard, Lyons has a solid go-to guy in forward Solomon Hill, who is averaging 13.6 points and 5.3 boards per game. The two help the Wildcats sink a good number of high-percentage shots—which is why the team ranks 52nd in the nation in scoring and 88th in field goal percentage.

Moreover, this is a team that defeated the Florida Gators on Dec. 15 and the Miami Hurricanes on Dec. 23. The Wildcats are No. 18 in the latest AP ranking for a reason, and teams had better start taking notice.

This includes Oregon and UCLA, who need to be prepared so that the Wildcats don't stun them.

 

Colorado

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Not necessarily a basketball powerhouse, Colorado has done a decent job of making a little bit of noise in the Pac-12 this season. The Buffaloes have gone 20-9 on the season and 10-7 in conference play, and they also rank 58th in rebounding.

More importantly, the team has some key wins in conference play. Not only has Colorado beaten Arizona, on Feb. 14, but it also beat Oregon...twice. The first time was a defensive battle on Feb. 7, and the second was a blowout on March 7. If there's any team that the Ducks should be afraid of, it's Colorado.

Thus, assuming that Spencer Dinwiddie (15.3 PPG) can keep up the scoring and Andre Roberson (11.5 RPG) can continue manning the paint with authority, the Buffaloes could definitely be a team to watch in the Pac-12 tournament.

 

California

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The Golden Bears have done a fine job of making some noise all season long, and this is the team that Oregon should fear the most besides Colorado. California took the Ducks down twice this season, on Feb. 2 and Feb. 21, and could definitely go on a run in the tournament to earn a solid seed in the Big Dance.

California also defeated Arizona on Feb. 10.

On the season, the team went 20-10 overall and a highly respectable 12-6 in conference play.

Head coach Mike Montgomery's star player is guard Allen Crabbe, whose 18.6 points per game have established him as one of the NCAA's better scorers. He has great size for a 2-guard at 6'6", 210 pounds and has a solid go-to man in the paint in forward David Kravish, who has posted seven boards per game.

That said, don't be surprised if California picks and pops its way to a spot in the championship game. This is a team to be feared, and both UCLA and Oregon could learn that the hard way.

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