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Pac-12 has a No. 1 rating in women's basketball, and now it's conference tournament time

Pac-12 has a No. 1 rating in women's basketball, and now it's conference tournament time
All-time NCAA scoring leader Kelsey Plum tries to score on a layup against USC's Courtney Jaco during a Pac-12 game Jan. 6. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

While Connecticut rolls along with a 104-game winning streak and reigns as the No. 1 team in NCAA women's basketball, the Pac-12 Conference has its own No. 1 ranking, as in Rating Percentage Index, making it the toughest conference in women's basketball.

And the conference is basking in the positive publicity surrounding Washington's Kelsey Plum, who became the NCAA all-time scoring leader after  getting 57 points last week against Utah to accumulate 3,397 points in her career.

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So get ready for lots of suspense and unpredictability when the Pac-12 tournament begins Thursday at KeyArena in Seattle.

Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA and Washington all have first-round byes and could be headed to be seeded anywhere from No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4 in the NCAA tournament depending on what happens this weekend.

"It's a war every night and it always has been. I think the depth is amazing," Oregon State Coach Scott Rueck said. "I think everybody who makes [a] postseason tournament, no matter what it is, is going to be well-prepared."

UCLA (22-7, 13-5 Pac-12) has momentum after coming up with its first Pac-12 road sweep of the season in beating Arizona and Arizona State last week. The Bruins were 14-0 at home.

The tournament usually comes down to rebounding and execution in the half-court offense, and UCLA has perhaps the best point guard in junior Jordin Canada, an all-conference honoree who's averaging 17.5 points. The No. 4-seeded Bruins will play the winner of Thursday's game between No. 5 Arizona State and No. 12 Utah at 2 p.m. Friday.

The best opener Thursday has No. 8 California facing No. 9 USC at 11:30 a.m. The winner will play No. 1 Oregon State on Friday. The championship game is set for 6 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2.

Twitter: latsondheimer

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