The Pac-12 tournament isn’t so much an exercise in basketball competition (that was great) as it is an event. A destination for hoopniks to congregate in a city that allows them to stay up past their bedtimes and participate in all manner of fandom. I watched eleven basketball games. Some of them were close and others were sharpied at the second media timeout. I met Ken Pomeroy and completely froze in the moment. I wish I’d asked if he could tell when exactly his numbers were predictably significant. After all, the college basketball season is only about 30 games long. That’s brief. Is that sample size significant to predicting a team’s performance? Similarly it’s been just three tournaments in Las Vegas. What do we really know about it? Is the fun we’ve had the shiny newness? The experiential equivalent of Washington being ranked 13th in the nation. It’s a small sample size and very few would be quick to celebrate the tournament’s Los Angeles iteration. Continue reading
We were a three pointer by a struggling if not disinterested first teamer from having the 10, 11, and 12 seeds advance. That’s contrary to the norm. The least tightly contested game featured the two most closely ranked teams. That’s contrary to the norm. Dan Kingma had nine points. That’s contrary to the norm. Of course we didn’t come to Vegas expecting chalk or things to go precisely according to plan (although I did remember to bring my ID to the airport for this trip. Big win.).
So what was Day 1 like? Maybe we call it a practice run? The MGM Grand Arena wasn’t quite bubbling to the top but – and this needs to be said – the PA guy called 4 games with unwavering enthusiasm. And he’ll be back at it again for Day 2. As for the basketball?
Somewhere amidst the blur that is any Vegas trip I received an email from Ticketmaster. The subject line of this email read, “Review Your Event: Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament.”
OK. I will.
Wow, Ticketmaster drawing the big guns early. Five stars. A year in the making, the move to Vegas came with great anticipation and lived up to the hype.
Yes. Resoundingly so.
Doesn’t matter. Look at the example. Can’t top that title.
You know how awesome it is when you anticipate something will be terrific and then it is? This wasn’t The Hangover 2, this was The Dark Knight. For a year we’d discussed the excitement of this event and then boom it delivered. The conference has rediscovered itself and just in time (well, at least not in the eyes of the committee with regards to seeding) to make an inaugural splash.
The MGM was accessible and the arena was big enough to house a crowd and quaint enough to get rowdy. Vegas itself is accessible and allowed me to attend this event with a whole lot of friends and enemies.
Particularly I liked the blackout curtains (so Vegas) on the side of the gym sans upper seating. It provided an ominous and dramatic backdrop to the play unfolding below.
Of course not as if this thing needed any additional drama. Day 1 saw games decided by 11 total points. Day 2 saw two overtimes. Day three provided this. And whatever the outcome, a championship is always a blast. Vegas crushed it. The competition crushed it. Frankly, Oregon crushed it. And again, kudos to Johnathan Loyd (MVP).
I bought beers that were more expensive than my ticket (12/12/12); I watched Huskies go nuts over a buzzer beating cover despite a team loss; I waltzed into session 5 with Pat Riley; I interestingly placed no wagers on Pac-12 games; I ran into college friends and blogosphere friends and watched a man pay $20 to kick another man in the groin (prior to midnight); I listened/participated as “U of A” chants drowned out the support of others (then watched/participated as sorrows were drowned); I saw a lot of red that didn’t always have a block A on it (Utah travelled); I made my flight home.
My lone complaint would be that putting the conference title game on at 8pm goes a long way in ensuring your conference gets minimal exposure. That’s 11pm EST and does it come as any surprise that Oregon – the winner of this tournament – was the most hosed on Selection Sunday? The tournament was brought to Vegas to get more people to see it. Let’s make sure that continues to happen.
Great question Ticketmaster. This one’s hard to pick and I loved the Sean Miller press conference. I won’t pick it as my favorite, however, because I’m not entirely sure I want to celebrate it. I will say that I’ve watched it many times and appreciate the way he goes to bat for Solomon Hill and wears the game.
But my favorite – and I’m going to get a little Field of Dreams-y on you here – was watching the Oregon-Washington game. This back-and-forth battle stands alone on its own merits as a terrific basketball contest. But it stands out to me because it wasn’t nearly a capacity audience as we managed to sit comfortably spread out in really whichever seats we wanted. And I got to do that next to my Dad. The rest of our party had chose dinner over the first half and in my blind loyalty to this conference I knew I wanted to see these heated rivals square off in a Pac-12 quarterfinal. So my dad joined me and we sat, like I said, comfortably and wherever we liked. Just father and son. Me and pops.
I did not sit there.
5 stars particularly if we’re considering the value of the seats. I had tickets to eleven basketball games (4 tickets to the championship) and spent roughly the same amount that I paid to get into Pauley on 3/2.
I would recommend these seats. They’re ambulatory.
They were turquoise and did this really weird adjusty thing where they’d slide back – a light recline, if you will – as you dropped the actual sitting fold into its sit-able position. This reminded me of one of those advancements you find in dated cars that seemed really tight at the moment but over time and with gained perspective you’re like does this actually serve any serviceable function? I have the feeling that kick-under-your-car-to-open-the-trunk thing is the next of these auto-creations. But yeah, the seats were turquoise.
You’re asking me to upload video from a 3-day trip to Las Vegas, Nevada? Screw you.
Well sort of. It’s like El Fin Eve. But then there’s that tournament in Vegas. And then the one all over the country. It’s so damn confusing. Or is it? Because for the first time this season games are going to start having some tangible outcomes. A win here means this there. A loss tonight means a game tomorrow. Or no games at all.
So sure, the fallout of it all is grossly complicated but we’re finally at the point where it all shakes out onto some staggered lines with the numbers 1-12 on the left and TBD team names on the right. And then it gets mad. In Vegas. Here is where I really wish I could find a clip of Chevy Chase just repeating “Vegas. Vegas. Vegas.” in slow motion in Vegas Vacation. You know the scene I just can’t find it on the YouTube. This one works, too.
But we definitely ain’t there yet. The weekend:
GotW: For the first time in GotW anointment history I’m calling a tie. First the games, then the caveat, then the explanation. Oregon @ Colorado, Thursday 7pm (this is mountain time for the first time for my Colorado friends), ESPN2. UCLA @ Washington, Saturday, 11am (this is PST), CBS. The caveat is UCLA beating WSU and the outcome of the former of the two listed games. And now the explanations. Oregon-CU is a revenge match of a game in Eugene that saved Colorado’s season as it was at risk of taking a really bad turn and that included an 8-0 run to finish the game. That’s the match-up intrigue. The ramification intrigue centers squarely on Oregon’s attempt to win a Pac-12 title. They need to sweep to ensure the 1-seed in Vegas. Big time. Meanwhile, up in Seattle, the Dawgs are looking to exact last-second revenge on the Bruins on CBS. How much do you love the CBS basketball jingle? Revenge is again the clear match-up intrigue. The ramification intrigue again centers on a title attempt. But what makes this one extra interesting is that UCLA could be playing knowing that a win allots them the conference crown all to themselves. Conversely, Washington knows that they could keep the hated Bruins from winning said title. If that’s the case and Washington wins, then Cal gets the 1-seed (assuming a win tomorrow against Stanford). Because that all makes sense.
Game to Avoid: Well this time of year it becomes impossible to avoid game as they are, A) Ubiquitous, B) Spicy, C) Awesome. But if you must, if the draw of college hoop in March is not enough to keep you away from – I dunno – responsibilities then I suppose it’d be pretty darn ok to skip Oregon State @ Utah. This one airs parallel to the aforementioned UO-CU GotW so I suppose you could just flip back and forth between the two. In which case, if those responsibilities are still looming, USC @ Washington State, late Saturday afternoon, is your best avoidance. There’s a bit at stake for USC (they could finish anywhere between 4th and 8th) but WSU doesn’t provide much by way of viewable product and you’ve already had a really busy viewing morning to that point. This is a 3:30pm tip and there will have already been four P12 games. But it’s also the last Pac-12 regular season game of the year (:().
Something to Prove: The Arizona Wildcats need to prove something to us. Are they the 14-0 team or are they the 9-6 team? They’re in the big dance, the Wildcats will be seeded relatively favorably, but should we be looking at them favorably? They’re an odd group because they have so many question marks heading into the final weekend of the season. I struggle to wrap my mind around what happens in their senior finale Saturday at home against ASU. They’ve previously dropped the ball in big, emotional conference tilts (both UCLA games, @Colorado) but they’ll have one final regular season opportunity to demonstrate some semblance of authority that’s been missing the conference season long. Can they do it?
Something to Lose: The UCLA Bruins have the easier of two final road weekend evils in playing UW and WSU as opposed to Oregon’s travels to Boulder and SLC. Which is to say that a loss at CU for the Ducks wouldn’t be a huge surprise (I in fact like the Buffaloes). Which is also to say that the Bruins have the better opportunity to sit alone atop the conference come Saturday afternoon. Which is to say – as the segment title suggests – the Bruins have something to lose. Which is to say that I think a conference title is something to lose. Which is to say….I got nothing left.
The Jam: “We the Common” by Thao & The Get Down Stay Down.
The YouTuber: Only the title of this video applies to this time of year as many teams are on thin ice. After that, your guess is as good, if not better, than mine.
PacHoops, from it’s inception, has made no bones about its excitement of the Pac-12’s expansion and subsequent journey into television network-dom. The head quarters themselves are just an Uncle Rico stone’s throw from my apartment and they broadcast any and every game I want to see. Or at least facilitate the broadcast rights in such a manner that ESPN or some other carrier provides.
The Pac-12 Network has changed our lives.
And it continues to do so. Tomorrow is 12/12/12 – that’s a lotta dozens – and to celebrate such, the conference is selling $12 single session passes to the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas. Tomorrow, from 10am-to-10pm PST, the tickets will be available for purchase here (http://pac-12.com/tickets).
But what does it all mean, Basil? As a credit card touting consumer, you are eligible to purchase one ticket to each session for $12 a piece. For you math wizzes, that’s $72 dollars to attend the entire Pac-12 Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament. In layman’s terms: Ganga.
So I’ll be there and I’m prepared to party with you. Hell, I write a column called Marching to Vegas for Rush the Court. We’ve been giddy about this thing since the day it was speculated. The MGM Grand Garden Arena ain’t seen nothin’ yet (OK, so it’s Vegas and that arena has likely seen all sorts of stuff. But I guarantee you it hasn’t seen Tad Boyle kill a bear!). All I know is Larry Scott put this thing in Vegas for us to attend which is more than we can say for Staples.
Be there and let’s watch somebody auto-qualify for The Dance.