March Madness has officially begun. And World Financial Group is keeping step with the first round of the madness. The Pac-10 Men’s Basketball Tournament was played over the weekend and it was a weekend full of upsets and exciting basketball. How much further into the madness can we travel? Let’s hope we can drive it all the way to April.
The tournament started on Wednesday. In the “play-in” games, ninth seeded Stanford upset Oregon State 62-54. Cardinal Anthony Goods led Stanford scoring with 23 points while OSU player Lathen Wallace scored 18 for the Beavers. Later that day, seventh seeded Washington State defeated Oregon 62-40. Senior Cougar Aron Baynes had 20 points in the game, as did Tajuan Porter for the Ducks.
The “nitty-gritty” of the tournament, however, really showed itself on Thursday. Four games were played and sports fans at WFG and across the country hung onto their seats watching:
In a final “duel for the desert”, the Arizona State Sun Devils won over the Arizona Wildcats 68-56. ASU player James Harden scored 27 points and had eight rebounds to lead the time. Arizona’s Jordan Hill led all Wildcat scoring with 20 points.
- Top seed Washington defeated Stanford 85-73. Huskies player Jon Brockman led Washington scoring with 20, but Stanford kept the game close during the first half, even tying the score eight times in the first half.
- In the closest game of the quarterfinals, the USC Trojans beat the California Golden Bears 79-75. Trojan Taj Gibson scored 21 and had 16 rebounds. Golden Bear Jerome Randle scored 18 in the loss.
And the UCLA Bruins took care of business against Washington State by a score of 64-53. Bruin Darren Collison scored 15 while Aron Baynes scored 22 for the Cougars.
On Friday the 13th, World Financial Group followed the semifinal action and saw:
- In probably the upset of the tournament so far, top seeded Washington fell to Arizona State 75-65. The Sun Devils were behind by 21 points at one point during the game, but came back on the strength of James Harden with his 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Three Huskies scored in double digits: Isaiah Thomas (17), Jon Brockman (13) and Justin Dentmon (11).
- And the Staples Center saw another “Battle for Los Angeles” as sixth seed USC upset second seed UCLA 65-55. Trojan freshman sensation DeMar Rozen had a double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds against the Bruins. UCLA’s Josh Shipp (19) and Nikola Dragovic (12) led the Bruin scoring machine.
And the final game of the tournament was played on Sat., March 14. The fourth seed, the Arizona State Sun Devils, would face the sixth seed, the USC Trojans. The game began at 3 p.m. local time and was televised on CBS. And, like in the semifinals, the higher seeded team fell to the lower one. The Trojans, led by DeMar Rozan (25 points), Daniel Hackett (19) and Dwight Lewis (13), became the lowest seeded team to ever win the Pac-10 tournament by a score of 66-63. Hackett scored the free throws that put the game out of ASU’s reach. Sun Devils Jeff Pendergraph and Derek Glasser led scoring for ASU with 20 and 16 points, respectively. USC earned an automatic bid in the 2009 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.
Here are the teams from the Pac-10 will be vying for a spot in the “final four” and the outright winner:
- USC, the 10th seed in the Midwest Regional, will face Boston College in the first round Friday in Minneapolis.
- Arizona, the 12th seed in the Midwest, will take on Utah on Friday in Miami.
- Washington earned the fourth seed in the West Regional and will take on Northern Iowa Thursday in Portland.
- California earned the 7th seed in the West and start tournament play against Maryland Thursday in Kansas City.
- UCLA is the 6th seed in the East Regional and play VCU Thursday in Philadelphia.
- And Arizona State finds itself the 6th seed in the South Regional. They’ll first play Temple this Friday in Miami.
Three more WFG-sponsored Pac-10 teams will be playing in the post season:
- Washington State has been invited to the NIT and will be the 7th seed in the West. Their first game is St. Patrick’s Day against St. Mary’s (California).
- Oregon State has been invited to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) tournament and will start their play against Houston on Wed., March 18.
- Stanford has also been invited to the CBI and will play Boise State on Wednesday as well.
In total, nine Pac-10 teams will be in the post season. That matches last season’s post-season record. Thanks to the Pac-10 for a great season of Men’s Basketball from your friends at World Financial Group.