Breaking News
More () »

March Madness: ASU, UArizona ready for Pac-12 Tournament

The tournament tips off Wednesday in Las Vegas, and the Sun Devils and Wildcats are ready to battle it out for the Pac-12 title and a berth in the NCAA tournament.

LAS VEGAS — The Pac-12 Tournament, a 4-day gauntlet that ends by giving one team an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, tips off Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and both #2 seed Arizona and #6 seed Arizona State are ready to battle it out for the conference crown. 

The Sun Devils will play first when they take on #11 Oregon State in the nightcap on Wednesday (tip-off is at 9:30 p.m. MST). 

Head Coach Bobby Hurley's club knows that if they can string together four wins in four days, they will be headed to the NCAA Tournament, and Hurley knows that one part of his team will be key to pulling that off. 

"This year, I've touted our depth quite a bit," Hurley said. "So everybody that's contributed at different points to give us the record that we did have all need to be available. And there are going to be games where guys that maybe aren't squarely on your radar as guys you think could help Arizona State win this tournament are going to have to step up. And if you're going to win four straight days, the physical toll that that takes, you're going to need guys on your bench to contribute and play a big role in that." 

Hurley also says that his team has the mental makeup to win the Pac-12 Tournament and that deserves a spot in the NCAA Tournament.  

"This team is very resilient, (a) very gritty, gutsy team, a team that, you know, I could relate to, you know, as a coach," Hurley said. "I think our guys are fighters you know, they push through a lot of tough situations, (and) they don't give up. You know, a lot of teams fold when they're facing a deficit and my guys don't and they haven't. 

"I've got just a lot of respect and an appreciation for the guys in the locker room and what they've given me all year," Hurley added. "That's why we're going to go all in and and see what we could do this week to continue the journey and, you know, I think this team deserves to play in the NCAA Tournament. We're going to fight like heck tomorrow and the whole week to make sure we make that a reality. And if not, you know, then we're, we'll look at the other option and it's not certainly what we had hoped for but these guys have put together a really good season and deserve to play in (the) postseason."  

The other option Hurley was referencing was the National Invitation Tournament, or NIT, where teams that just missed out on playing in the NCAA Tournament usually end up.   

Hurley also knows that the familiarity of facing Oregon State in the first round, a team ASU beat twice in the regular season, could end up paying off by helping the Devils advance to the 2nd round. 

"Scouting is going to matter," Hurley said. "I think familiarity with all the teams you're playing, you know, you kind of you rely on that some, but it's more about like, are you doing what you do really good? And are you doing it at both ends of the floor? And you just can't afford to have a game where you're not at your best."  

The Sun Devils archrival, the Arizona Wildcats, earned a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament thanks to their 2nd-place finish during the regular season and play in the 2nd round against either #7 Utah or #10 Stanford on Thursday. 

The Wildcats lost to both of those teams during the regular season. The Utes upset the then-#4 Wildcats in December, 81-66, and the Cardinal beat the also then-#4 Wildcats last month, 88-79. Head Coach Tommy Lloyd is not worried about either of those games affecting his team. 

"I don't know if there's an advantage for them; they have confidence they can beat us," Lloyd said. "We're gonna go out; the score is gonna be 0-0. We're gonna throw it up. And we're gonna play to win. I mean, there's nothing more than that. We've had more than just two teams in this conference (that) have beaten us this year, and it's just a sign that there are other good teams in the conference. So, we're ready for all comers."  

Lloyd, like his colleague Hurley in Tempe, knows that the quick pace of this tournament can be tough, but it's never an excuse to not play your best. 

"You're gonna double down on the things that you do, and hopefully do well," Lloyd said. "They're quick turnarounds. But again, you have a familiarity with these teams. So, you know, I think we'll be able to go into the game comfortable with our game plan and feel like we haven't been shorted."  

The Pac-12 Tournament tips off at 1 p.m. MST on Wednesday with a matchup between #8 Washington and #9 Colorado. 

If ASU beats Oregon State, they will play #3 USC at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday. ASU lost twice to the Trojans in the regular season. 

Arizona's game against either Stanford or Utah will tip off at 7 p.m. on Thursday. 

The Sun Devils and Wildcats would meet in the semifinals at 9:30 p.m. on Friday if both win on Thursday.   

The Pac-12 Tournament Championship will be at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. 

The 68-team NCAA Tournament bracket will be announced on Sunday. 

12Sports on YouTube 

Before You Leave, Check This Out