It feels like just yesterday the college basketball season was tipping off around the country. But, as of today, we are exactly one month away from the start of postseason basketball in the Pac-12.
The men’s tournament is scheduled to start at T-Mobile Arena on March 10, with the women’s tournament tipping off even earlier, on March 4 at Mandalay Bay. Of course, the problem this year will be keeping the teams healthy enough to play in the conference tournament games and, more importantly, the NCAA Tournament.
Newly announced rules require all personnel on NCAA Tournament teams, including players, coaches and medical staff, to register seven straight negative COVID-19 tests before even departing for the Indianapolis area, where all 67 games will be played this year. With that in mind, the question of whether the Pac-12 Tournament should even be played is an important one. Why should programs that are a lock for Selection Sunday bother with the added logistics, and risk, of playing additional games?
There are plenty of arguments for and against playing the Pac-12 Tournament in Vegas next month. Tuesday on his Pac-12 Hotline newsletter, Jon Wilner outlined two different perspectives from Pac-12 leaders.
“We’ve got great partners in Las Vegas,” said Utah AD Mark Harlan, who also confirmed during an interview with ESPN700 in Salt Lake City that the conference was moving forward with their tournament plans. “They’ve got a great plan to bubble both the men and women when they’re there… We’re pretty confident that we can run a really good tournament.”
On the other end, at least one head coach (who is already a near lock for the Tournament) is against the idea. UCLA head coach Mick Cronin told the College Hoops Today podcast that he’s uncomfortable with the idea of playing the tournament in Las Vegas. “I’m very, very concerned. Once the NCAA protocols came out, with the seven consecutive negative tests, it’s very scary.”
On Tuesday, WSU head coach Kyle Smith also gave his thoughts on the playing the Pac-12Tournament this year. Smith has maintained all season long that fighting through the difficulties of the pandemic was well worth it to play games, and his feelings haven’t changed heading into the conference tournament.
“These kids like to play, they like to work hard,” Smith said during his weekly press conference. “We like to reward those opportunities. They’ve done a pretty good job of keeping themselves safe. I’d rather do it than not. That’s my opinion.
It sounds like the Pac-12 Tournament is going to happen in some form this March. The only question at this point is what it will look like. At least one conference game has been postponed every week this season and the likelihood of playing every game as scheduled is very low.
Just like everything else in life at this point, we’re all playing the waiting game. But the Conference seems poised to make their tournament happen, no matter what.
Pac-12 on track to hold basketball tournaments in Las Vegas
Despite the threat of COVID, the men's and women's events are moving forward as scheduled in early March. But it's not clear that players would be safer if the tournaments were canceled.
The Pac-12 is pushing ahead with its conference basketball tournaments. Is this a good idea?
The Pac-12 Tournament will contest its men's and women's conference basketball tournaments, but is that a good idea?
Cougs host No. 24 Bruins Thursday - Washington State University Athletics
The Cougs look to get back on track at home against the first place Bruins.
Tip-Time set for Cougs rematch with Arizona - Washington State University Athletics
WSU at Arizona will tip at 8 p.m. PT on FS1.
Pac-12 taps Turnkey in commissioner search: What the move means
It's the smart move for the conference. TurnkeyZRG has placed athletic directors at USC, Alabama and Michigan and just assisted the ACC on its commissioner search.