Thursday, February 9, 2012

Planning for the PAC-12 Tournament

The PAC-12 tournament approaches: bigger and longer and even more of a challenge for the obsessive fan than last year! Hereinbelow find all the info you need to deal with it.

First, the games. They are to be played over four days: Wednesday March 7th through Saturday March 10th. The women play four games Wednesday and four on Thursday at USC's Galen Center, and then semi-final and final games on Friday and Saturday at the Staples Center. Remember last year's nail-biting final against UCLA?

Click on this link to view a one-page PDF of the men's and women's brackets, covering 22 games in four days. Or, just click on the following image to see the schedule for the eleven games of the Women's bracket:

Presuming Stanford is the #1 seed, the Cardinal will first play at noon on Thursday, then go on to a noon game on Friday and, one hopes, 11:30 am on Saturday. But a true basketball aficionado wants to see all the games, eight hours of them on Wednesday and on Thursday. Bring a cushion!

If You Can't Go

If you can't make the trip, this year you can still see all the games. Note in the bracket above, that the semi-final and final games are on FSN. But also, all of the preceding games are, the PAC-12 says, to be streamed live on the Pac-12 YouTube Channel. So you could possibly watch all eleven women's games from home. You could even watch the post-game press conferences. (Shut-ins take note.) Hopefully you don't have a bandwidth cap on your internet.


As it was last year, the PAC-12 wants you to buy an all-session tournament package ticket that gives you an assigned seat at the Staples Center for all men's games, and gets you general admission to all women's games. There has been some confusion on this point, but the online FAQ is pretty clear:

You will have general admission to women's games and a reserved seat for men's games with your combined ticket for each session at STAPLES Center.

You can now buy tickets for individual "sessions" at this Ticketmaster page. However, each session costs $35. To see all the (possible) Stanford games you would need to buy three sessions (Thursday first session, Friday first session, Saturday final) which comes to just $5 less than you would pay for an all-session package from this Stanford sales link. For $110 you get men's-game seats in the furthest reaches of the Staples Center, up among the bats and owls, but if your main interest is the women's games, who cares?

Getting There

The trip starts with getting from the Bay Area to L.A. in time for the first games on Wednesday afternoon. You may plan to return on Saturday the 12th following the end of the Women's final about 2pm, or stay around for the men's final ending around 6pm (in which case you'd probably want to stay over and return on Sunday).

There are plenty of flights available, all costing around $150. Three nonstops from SJC get in to LAX in time for Wednesday's games, and also four nonstops returning after 6pm Saturday. There are seven nonstops from SFO that work, but only two return flights after 5pm Saturday. Delta has two flights out of OAK Wednesday morning and two Saturday evening returns. (As always, is a good tool for finding flights; but it doesn't cover Southwest, which has several suitable flights also.)

Or, you can drive. With two drivers trading off and minimal stops, it's about 7 hours Palo Alto to the Galen Center, only a couple of hours longer than the door-to-door air travel time. Forty gallons of gas, $150; two additional motel nights, $180—about the same as the air fare for two people. Plus you don't need a rental car in L.A.

Or—and now for something completely different—you can take the Amtrak Coast Starlight between San Jose and L.A. Union Station. Travel time about 11 hours each way, so go down on Tuesday, come back Sunday; round-trip price with senior discount: $88. Not bad at all!

L.A. With No Car?

Perfectly possible, as long as you plan to spend most of your time inside an arena. Select a hotel in walking distance of the Staples Center and you can travel to the Galen Center easily by bus or cheaply by taxi. Here's a map:

Click on "view Larger Map"; the Galen Center is at letter A, Staples at B.

Here is a map of hotels near the Staples Center:

Again, click View Larger Map to see them all.

In previous years the PAC-12 has hosted teams in the Wilshire Grand; however that hotel is now closed for reconstruction. We have no info on where teams are being housed. Uber-fan Wally Mersereau has already booked at the Marriott near Staples Center and says they are full or nearly so, already.


  1. GREAT INFO! Thanks!

  2. Agree. This is really well done. Thanks!