Last year, the Arizona Wildcats ended a 13-year drought by beating Oregon in the finals of the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament.
In order to become repeat champs, the Cats will have to navigate through much rougher waters this year.
UA enters this year's tourney as the No. 4 seed, behind Oregon, Utah and Cal respectively -- all of whom beat the Wildcats during the regular season.
Who will get it done in Las Vegas this year? Here's a prediction for all 11 games of the Pac-12 Tournament, which begins Wednesday.
First round (Wednesday)
8 Washington vs. 9 Stanford (1 p.m.): The Huskies beat Stanford 64-53 in their only meeting of the season (in Seattle), and they’ll be playing with a ton of desperation, as they likely need a couple more wins to earn an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. Washington 75, Stanford 68
5 Colorado vs. 12 Washington State (3:30 p.m.): The Buffaloes had a ton of trouble with the Cougars this season, and they needed two overtimes to beat Wazzu in Boulder last month. But it’s hard to envision CU suffering a first-round defeat to the Pac-12’s worst team. Colorado 79, Washington State 71
7 USC vs. 10 UCLA (7 p.m.): USC won both of its matchups with the Bruins during the regular season, but the Trojans have lost five of their last seven games. UCLA, which has lost four in a row, has problems of its own, but the Bruins know they need to run the table in order to make the Big Dance. UCLA 68, USC 64
6 Oregon State vs. 11 Arizona State (9:30 p.m.): The Sun Devils routed OSU in their one and only meeting (in Tempe), but the Beavers have looked sharp down the stretch. Look for Gary Payton II and the Beavs to get the job done on a neutral court. Oregon State 71, Arizona State 64
1 Oregon vs. 8 Washington (1 p.m.): The Ducks have won five in a row and routed the Huskies in Eugene two weeks ago. They should cruise to the semifinals against the Pac-12’s worst defensive unit. Oregon 87, Washington 68
4 Arizona vs. 5 Colorado (3:30 p.m.): The Buffs edged the Wildcats in Boulder two weeks ago in a matchup made famous by Sean Miller’s complaints about court-storming. The Wildcats should win a rematch in Vegas in a game that will feature the conference’s two best rebounding teams. Arizona 73, Colorado 70
2 Utah vs. 10 UCLA (7 p.m.): The visiting Utes edged UCLA by two points three weeks ago, but my gut says the Bruins will find a way past Utah. UCLA is a team with tons of talent that has underachieved most of season, and it’ll take full advantage of its last chance to keep its season alive. Look for sharpshooting guard Bryce Alford to have a big game. UCLA 70, Utah 69
3 Cal vs. 6 Oregon State (9:30 p.m.): If not for Gabe York’s heroics in Tucson last week, Cal would be riding a nine-game winning streak into Vegas. Still, the Golden Bears are playing better than anyone in the Pac-12 right now. Their likely rebounding edge against the Beavers will help push them to the next round. Cal 75, Oregon State 65
1 Oregon vs. 4 Arizona (7 p.m.): Arizona may be a more well-rounded team than Oregon, but the Ducks broke Arizona’s 49-game home winning streak last month and, led by sophomore Dillon Brooks, are playing their best basketball of the season. UA will have a home-court edge in Vegas, as Wildcat basketball fans always travel well – but Oregon has already proved it can persevere in that kind of environment. Oregon 82, Arizona 77
3 Cal vs. 10 UCLA (9:30 p.m.): The Bruins’ surprising run ends here. Cal matches up well in the paint with the Bruins’ physical forwards, and the Bears are fresh off a win over UCLA two weeks ago. Look for freshman forward Ivan Rabb to dominate underneath the basket. Cal 70, UCLA 62
Championship game (Saturday)
1 Oregon vs. 3 Cal (8 p.m.): They’re the two hottest teams in the conference, and for Oregon, a No. 2 or even a No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed could be on the line. But Cal routed the Ducks by 20 points in Berkeley on Feb. 11 thanks largely to a massive rebounding edge. Look for that scenario to play out again Saturday as the Ducks fall short in the Pac-12 Tournament championship game for the second straight season.
Cal 75, Oregon 71
Most Outstanding Player: Cal senior guard Tyrone Wallace