By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Pac-12 sends five teams to the Men's NCAA basketball tournament

 

March 18, 2021

George Laase

Freshman sensation Evan Mobley will lead the USC Trojans in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on TNT.

Despite a season of cancellations due to the pandemic, which led to some very uneven play in the

Pac-12 conference this season, the NCAA tournament committee selected five teams from the Pac-12 to

play in the 68 team NCAA men's basketball tournament in Indianapolis. UCLA, USC, Colorado, Oregon,

and Oregon State are the five teams selected to participate in this year's tournament. Due to the

pandemic, all games are being held at sites within the Indianapolis metro area and central Indiana.

The Oregon State Beavers got the conference automatic bid with their recent win in the Pac-12

postseason tournament. The Beavers overcame a 16-point deficit to defeat UCLA in overtime, held on to

beat in-state rival Oregon for the second time this season and overcame Colorado in the championship

game. They are the No. 12 seed in the Midwest region and will open against No. 5 seed Tennessee on

Friday, March 19 th . This is the 18 th all-time appearance in the NCAA tournament for the Beavers.

The Colorado Buffaloes (22-8) are making their 15th NCAA Tournament in program history, drawing

the No. 5 seed in the East Region where they will open against No. 12 seed Georgetown on Saturday,

March 20th. The Buffaloes' No. 5 seed is the best in program history. They are led by point guard

McKinley Wright IV, who led the Buffs in scoring at 15.5 points per game and assists at 5.6 per game.

The USC Trojans (22-7) are in the West Region as the No. 6 seed and will face the winner of the

matchup between Wichita State and Drake on Saturday, March 20th. It is the 19th all-time tourney

berth for the Trojans and third under head coach Andy Enfield. The Trojans are led by the Evan Mobley,

their 7-foot forward, who was the Pac-12 Player of the Year, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year,

and the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

Mobley is projected to be a top five pick in the 2021 NBA draft, if he decides to leave. The Trojans

could be headed for a second-round matchup with the Kansas Jayhawks, but first they need to win on

Saturday and the Jayhawks need to get by the Eastern Washington University Eagles. USC can beat

anyone, and they can lose to anyone. They went 0-3 against Colorado this season and needed overtime

to defeat California Baptist, but they swept UCLA and crushed a good BYU team by 26 points.

The Oregon Ducks, the Pac-12 regular-season champions, went 20-6 and are the West Region's No. 7

seed, will start the tournament against No. 10 seed VCU on Saturday, March 20th. It is the 17th all-time

appearance for the Ducks including the program-record seventh for head coach Dana Altman. The Ducks

have advanced to at least the Sweet 16 in each of its last three NCAA appearances (2016 - Elite Eight;

2017 - Final Four; 2019 - Sweet 16). The Ducks are led by third team All-American guard Chris Duarte.

The UCLA Bruins ended the regular season 17-9, losing their last four games. All four of their losses

were to the other four Pac-12 teams that made the NCAA Tournament and in all four losses, the Bruins

had a lead in the second half. They will be the No. 11 seed in the East Region and will open against

Michigan State on Thursday, March 18th.

The winner advances to play No. 6 seed BYU on Saturday, March 20th. The Bruins will be making their

50th all-time tourney appearance, and their first under second-year head coach Mick Cronin. The Bruins

will need their best players to play well if they are going to get by Michigan State. All-Pac-12 first team

point guard Tyger Campbell and leading scorer Johnny Juzang need to play well, especially in late game

situations, where UCLA has faltered as of late.


George Laase

UCLA's sophomore guard Johnny Juzang will need to be at the top of his game if the Bruins expect to advance in the NCAA Tournament. He is the Bruins leading scorer.

 

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