Day 4 Recap Of The 2012 Pac-12 Basketball Tournament: A Champion Is Crowned

Dime will be in the building all week for the 2012 Pac-12 basketball tournament to drop some knowledge on you about multiple, epic fails of NCAA Tournament hopes and Ernie Kent’s drink of choice.

*** *** ***

Now they’ve really done it. If you had asked me before the Pac-12 Tournament to make some predictions, I wouldn’t have guessed any of the following.

1. Oregon State upsets No. 1 seed Washington in the Huskies’ first game.
2. The three top seeds fail to make the championship game.
3. Colorado wins it all.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised about how wildly insane it all went down. After all, this was a season where no team looked like they wanted to pull away from the pack. In the end, the parity of the conference tournament only shows that the Pac-12 is really as bad as we all thought in the non-conference. The NCAA selection committee is not going to do Pac-12 teams any favors, especially considering how squads like Cal, Washington and Oregon screwed the pooch in tidying their resumes for consideration as at-large teams.

Still, the storyline of the Buffaloes downing Arizona 53-51 in an ugly, defensive battle is a fantastic one. Saturday’s championship match-up was fun because it was two teams that, while not that talented, have a ton of grit.

Best of the day
The Buffaloes were led by two Cali boys playing back in their home state. Freshman Spencer Dinwiddie scored 14 points and senior Carlon Brown had 13. Two of Brown’s points came with 55 seconds to play, and CU clinging to a four-point lead. He blew by a defender and Arizona’s defense had a major breakdown. Seriously, it was like everyone got out of his way as he rumbled down the lane, launched and cocked back his hand for a monster dunk.

After going all windmill against Cal the night prior, Brown has become my pick for being a sleeper to make it in the NBA. He’s 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, and while not a high scorer at 12.6 a game, can lock down on D.

“I just want him to finish them,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “Now Carlon’s banged a few off the back of the rim, but I’m telling you what, big players make big-time plays, on big-time stages. I think what you saw out of Carlon Brown these last four games is he’s a guy who kind of put this team on his shoulders. And those windmill dunks are just icing on the cake.”

Worst of the day
OK, so in scoring a combined 104 points, Colorado and Arizona set a new Pac-12 Championship game record for lowest combined score by 19 points, but lots of it had to do with solid defense. The Buffs shot only 38 percent and the Wildcats sat at a lowly 36.7 clip, but the two teams also only combined for 15 turnovers.

And it was remarkable that Colorado pulled off the win despite scoring three — yes, three — points in the last 9:12 of the game. Those three came off of the previously noted Carlon Brown dunk and a free throw. Sure, maybe it wasn’t fun to watch. But if you appreciate good defense, overlooking the ugly statistics is much, much easier.

Faces in the crowd
Washington State coach Ken Bone was sitting somewhere in the stands to take in the game. I know this because during one timeout, a fan camera was focused on a crazy Arizona supporter, and it caught a stone-faced Bone watching as the lady made a fool of herself by dancing around. It’s safe to say that Bone was not about to start Dougie-ing.

Remember when the media picked the Buffaloes to finish next-to-last in the Pac-12 despite it being a down year and teams like Utah and Arizona State looking to finish down there, too? Yeah, they lost a lot of players from last season, when they were an NCAA bubble team. Well, Tad Boyle’s squad didn’t buy it, and they used last year’s snub and the media poll as motivation.

“We dedicated this game beforehand to Cory Higgins, Levi Knutson, Marcus Relphorde, Trent Beckley, Javon Coney, and Alec Burks,” Boyle said. “Not a lot of you in this room may know those six guys, but those six guys sat in my home last year on Selection Sunday for their last opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament, and they were snubbed. That inspired us. They picked us 11th. That inspired us.”

Eyes and ears
The Buffs fans definitely traveled well in their first Pac-12 Tournament, and the athletic department even flew out some members of the student section. These guys are serious, too. One dude was dressed head to toe in a golden Halo get-up while another fellow had a black and gold Iron Man outfit.

Also, best fan sign of the weekend came courtesy of a CU student. “Cat people are weird.” Simple, and kind of clever.

What do you think?

Follow Kevin on Twitter at @offensivelyfoul.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.