The Pac-12 conference is undeniably down this season in men’s basketball.
But the fact that it doesn’t have a single team in The Associated Top 25 poll and only one team in KenPom.com’s top 50 — Washington at No. 47 — should make for a wide-open tournament at T-Mobile Arena and Las Vegas sportsbooks.
“Literally 10 of the 12 teams can win, given the right breaks,” Westgate sportsbook manager Ed Salmons said. “It’s probably one of the most balanced conferences.”
The Huskies are the 5-2 favorite to win the tournament, followed by Arizona State and Oregon at 4-1 and Oregon State at 5-1. But 10 teams have odds of 25-1 or less and California, a 100-1 shot, upset Washington on Feb. 28.
“That league is so mediocre right now, anyone that gets hot can make a run,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said.
Oregon arguably has the best coach in Dana Altman, who guided the Ducks (19-12, 10-8 Pac-12) to a 55-47 win Saturday over the Huskies (24-7, 15-3).
“Washington could lose in this thing,” Goldsheet.com handicapper Bruce Marshall said. “They’re the only Pac-12 team that has their NCAA bid secure. They have a little less urgency and play a slower tempo anyway.
“Oregon’s win this weekend sets them up as a team to watch. Oregon State is interesting here and I’d watch Colorado and Utah, too, and maybe even Stanford as teams to challenge Washington and ASU.”
Arizona, at 18-1, is the two-time defending Pac-12 tournament champion and has won three of the last four titles, with Oregon claiming the crown in 2016.
“Arizona is a team that travels with the most fans here to Vegas,” handicapper Wes Reynolds (@WesReynolds1) said. “Arizona and Oregon are two teams I can see putting together a run.”
The Mountain West tournament at the Thomas &Mack Center shapes up as a two-team showdown between UNR (minus 150) and Utah State (2-1), followed by Fresno State (5-1) and defending tourney champion San Diego State (15-1).
UNLV (17-13, 11-7 MW) is the 25-1 fifth choice but went 0-6 against the top four teams, getting swept by the Wolf Pack (28-3, 15-3) and Aztecs (19-12, 11-7).
“UNLV is better than the bad teams, but they can’t beat the good teams,” Marshall said. “They were so outclassed by (UNR) and Utah State.”
With the Wolf Pack and Aggies (25-6, 15-3) all but assured of NCAA bids, Reynolds said Fresno State (22-8, 13-5) or San Diego State might surprise and win the MW tournament.
“(UNR) and Utah State are clearly the two best teams,” he said. “But I could easily see Fresno State or San Diego State winning at the Thomas &Mack.”
New Mexico State is the clear-cut favorite to win the Western Athletic Conference tournament at Orleans Arena.
The Aggies (27-4, 15-1 WAC) are the minus 175 favorite, followed by Utah Valley State (7-2) and Grand Canyon (4-1).
“New Mexico State is clearly the class of this league,” Marshall said. “I’d be shocked if they don’t win this tournament.
“They’ll be a scary 12 or 13 seed in the (NCAA Tournament). They’re very athletic and they’ve got guys who can shoot. I guarantee they’ll be a bad matchup for some teams.”
Marshall’s best futures bet in all the conference tournaments is on his namesake program. The Thundering Herd have won five straight and are 12-1 at the Westgate to win the Conference USA tourney, which starts Wednesday.
“Marshall’s playing better than any team in the league right now, they won this tournament last year and they’re getting 12-1?” he said. “That’s the best bargain of the week.”
Conference tournament odds posted at Westgate sportsbook
Wednesday through Saturday
At Thomas & Mack Center
Utah State; 2-1
Fresno State; 5-1
San Diego State; 15-1
Boise State; 50-1
Colorado State; 100-1
Air Force; 100-1
New Mexico; 100-1
San Jose State; 1,000-1
At T-Mobile Arena
Arizona State; 4-1
Oregon State; 5-1
Southern California; 25-1
Washington State; 100-1
At Orleans Arena
New Mexico State; -175
Utah Valley State; 7-2
Grand Canyon; 4-1
Texas-Rio Grand Valley; 15-1
CS Bakersfield; 30-1
Chicago State; 1,000-1