It's going to be a very long day for me at Staples Center. The first game tips off at 12:20 pm PT between #4 seed Oregon (23-7) and #5 Arizona (20-9). The teams split their two games this year with each team winning on the road. Both teams have been considered Final Four contenders at times this year. But both hit hard times as the season rolled on. Arizona's defensive struggles and lack of depth hurt them. As for Oregon, a favorable home schedule early got them off to a good start and then they fell and fell hard. The Ducks managed to beat UCLA once and Washington State twice, but lost to Washington twice also. That is if you interpret the word "twice" in the previous sentence to mean "once." Kids today and their crazy talk.
The second game should start around 2:50 pm PT between #1 UCLA (26-4) and #8 Cal (15-16). The Bruins beat the Bears twice this year. UCLA beat Cal in the final last year. This year the Bruins shouldn't have too much trouble against a banged-up Cal team that doesn't have much going for it other than jacking up three point attempts. Cal did have a 34-2 run at one point Oregon State Wednesday night in its opening round game.
After that, Staples Center gets cleared out and I go forage for food and then head back in.
The third game starts at 6:20 and matches #3 USC (21-10) and #6 Stanford (18-11). The Trojans and Cardinal split their season series with each team winning at home. Both teams are coming in on a downward trend. The Cardinal have lost three of their last four and the Trojans lost their last two games. This game will eliminate a lot of the contestants in the Griddle contest. It's a tough game to handicap. The Trojans will be slight favorites as they are playing closer to home and are healthier.
The final game will start around 8:45 and matches #2 Washington State (24-6) and #7 Washington (19-12). The Huskies scrapped out a win over Arizona State Wednesday night and will try to avenge two regular season losses to the Cougars. The Cougars won by 28 in Pullman and by 4 in Seattle. Outside of conference play, the Huskies have no notable wins. Both teams played Gonzaga early in the year. The Huskies lost to the Zags by 20 and the Cougars won by 10. UW was playing in Spokane, but Wazzu was hosting Gonzaga in Pullman.
And now updated picks. Incorrect entries are in strikethrough and the points were deducted from your possible total.