Friday, February 4, 2011

Conference Review: Pac-10

As we get closer and closer to March, I wanted to take a look at a conference that hasn't been looked at too much this season.  The Pac-10, not noted for its strength in basketball, could very well send three teams to the NCAA tournament this year.  Arizona, Washington and UCLA all have legitimate tournament resumes, as they all battle it out for the conference title.  Currently Arizona (22) and Washington (19) are ranked in the top 25, but Washington lost a bad game to Oregon State last night and could see a drop out of the rankings after losing to Washington State last week as well.  

Arizona is an interesting team to watch because they have the superstar in Derrick Williams.  He is averaging 20 points a game and shooting great from behind the arc.  He has a right pinky injury, but has played through it and continues to be tremendous.  Arizona is an interesting team because they have played well in spurts this year, only losing four games thus far; however, they do not have a signature win so far this year.  The yhave lost to Kansas, BYU, and Washington, making them 0-3 against ranked teams.  The Wildcats do have the best record in the Pac-10 right now, but face a tough test vs. Washington in two weeks.  That game has a lot of importance because Arizona has already lost to Washington and they need a win against a good team to secure their spot in the tournament. 

UCLA has had the strangest year of them all, losing 4 in a row in late November to early December, but then putting together a great streak of games.  They stand at 15-7 (7-3 Pac-10), making them a viable tournament candidate.  The Bruins have a great win vs. BYU earlier in the year, making their case even stronger to get in as an at-large bid.  They have a daunting task to play St. Johns tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM local time, which could be a difficult game to overcome.  They finish the year with games vs. Arizona, Washington, and Washington State, which will go a long way in determining UCLA's place in the Pac-10 contender list.  

As for the rest of the conference, only Washington State has put together a solid tournament case, as they are 2-2 vs. top 25 teams this season.  They have beaten Baylor and Washington, but losses to Kansas State, Cal and Oregon could limit their year to the NIT.  USC is 12-11 and again irrelevant amongst the best of the Pac-10, continuing the streak of recent history of mediocre Trojan basketball.  Losses to Rider, Bradley, Nebraska, TCU, and Oregon significantly outweigh their win vs. Texas and Tennessee.  

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