Top to bottom, the big conference out west might not be the best.
But the cream is supreme in the Pac-12, with three elite card-carriers in strong contention for the Final Four -- or better.
Oregon, UCLA and Arizona crowd the spotlight at the league tournament that commences Wednesday in Las Vegas. The Ducks are a narrow favorite.
BRACKETOLOGY: OREGON, UCLA AND ARIZONA ALL PROJECTED AS NO. 2 SEEDS
The terrific trio has kissed the trophy in recent seasons. Oregon captured its fourth Pac-12 tourney last year. Arizona reeled in its fifth in 2015 and UCLA its fourth in '14.
Whichever accepts the title trophy on Saturday will make a powerful case for a No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed. It could come with a reward.
The West's premier seed -- either Gonzaga or the Pac-12 automatic qualifier -- likely would play the first two weekends close to home in Sacramento and San Jose. The commutes for the team, as well as for its fans, would be short and sweet.
BookMaker.eu has tagged the dozen teams with the following odds to become champion:
Washington State +4000
Arizona State +4100
Oregon State +4300
THE FAVORITE: Oregon (risk $100 to win $160) -- The Ducks split tight games with UCLA and torched Arizona in their lone matchup. A No. 22 ranking for both offensive and defensive efficiency is evidence of a balanced team.
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VALUE PLAY: Utah (risk $100 to win $1700) -- The Utes are getting no love as the No. 4 seed. In fact, they drew longer odds than No. 5 California. Huh? Utah drilled the Bears recently by 30 points and arrives in Vegas on a three-game roll.
CBS SPORTS: UPDATED CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT BRACKETS
LONG SHOT: USC (risk $100 to win $3000) -- If ailing Washington star Markelle Fultz sits, the Trojans open with a virtual bye. Afterward, the road to the finals is treacherous, with UCLA and Arizona in their path, but this is a gifted squad that has yet to meet its potential.
PICK: Oregon (risk $100 to win $160) -- There are exceptions to the rule of avoiding favorites in conference tournaments. In this case, the Ducks? three most imposing threats ? Arizona, UCLA and USC ? reside on the other side of the bracket. A smooth ride to the finals looms for Oregon, so it is the safest pick.
The CBS Sports experts are loving UCLA and Arizona to win it all. Here are their Pac 12 Tournament picks:
Gary Parrish: UCLA
Matt Norlander: Arizona
Jerry Palm: UCLA
Howard Megdal: Arizona
Kyle Boone: UCLA
#5 Oregon, #7 Arizona, and Cal all advanced out of the quarterfinals. Arizona dropped 54 points on Colorado in the second half after leading by one at intermission.