Thursday, January 12, 2006


It is too early to write anybody off at this point in the season. But, there is still quite a bit of intrigue in the upcoming Pac 10 games, especially tonite. Here are the standings as of today;

Pacific 10 Conf Overall
UCLA (11) (3-1) (13-2)
Arizona (24) (3-1) (10-4)
California (3-1) (9-4)
Washington St. (2-1) (9-3)
USC (2-2) (11-4)
Stanford (2-2) (6-6)
Washington (13) (1-2) (12-2)
Oregon St. (1-2) (8-6)
Oregon (1-2) (7-8)
Arizona St. (0-4) (6-7)

The top 8 teams will be in action over the next 24 hours (including Cal at Stanford on Friday). So what’s the deal with this conference? Are any final four contenders? Is this just another mediocre conference? At this point, we don’t know, but some answers will come from these games.

A few weeks ago, Washington was undefeated, off to their best start in 30 years, ranked #7 in the country, and held the nation’s longest home court winning streak. Since then, they have suffered two home losses to Arizona and Washington state and are now on the road down south playing USC and UCLA. Sweep these teams and they put themselves right back on the map and could find themselves, again, as a final four contender. Lose them both, and kiss any kind of post season success goodbye. Split the road games, and we pick this conversation up next week when they host the Oregon schools. My gut tells me they are prepared for the game tonite against USC and win, but they lose to UCLA on Saturday. I would be more surprised with a victorious road sweep, than if they were to lose both. The chance they overlook USC tonite is a possibility, as the Trojans should not be taken lightly. As good as Washington can be, they won’t sweep these two games.

Meanwhile, Washington state travels to Pauley Pavilion tonite to take on the Bruins. The two teams have completely different styles of play, but both teams play their own games and are doing it well now. Washington state is the team I would not want to play right now as they will frustrate you on defense and take you out of your offense, a trend I pick to continue tonite. Look for the upset tonite (see below for my trip to the Bank) as Washington state defeats UCLA.

Arizona intrigues me. They are a different wildcat team than we have seen from years past. They usually can shoot real well and like to run teams off the court. This year, they are not great shooters, and are getting it done with defense. I think this team is gearing up for a nice run at an easy Pac 10 title with dreams of heavier trophies. They should have no problem with Oregon state tonite.

Cal comes into the farm with a little swagger, compliments of their junior point guard Ayinde Ubaka. He seems to have gained a lot of confidence in his game and feels comfortable running the show now for the Bears. I expect him and Powe to get the best of the Cardinal this time at the farm on Friday night.

Injuries always play a part in any season, but they seem to be hitting UCLA and to a lesser degree, Washington state and Stanford, at this particular time. UCLA will be without Josh Shipp for the remainder of the year. Jordan Farmar and Aaron Affalo are banged up, but expected to play. Stanford has dealt with the slow recovery of Dan Grunfeld and an ankle injury to Matt Haryasz, while Washington state will be without Derrick Lowe for about six weeks with a fractured foot. Can these teams overcome these obstacles? Good teams figure a way out. Are these good teams in the Pac 10? Aside from Arizona, I say no. But don’t take my word for it, watch the games and prove me wrong.

Money’s trip to the Bank:
WASHINTON STATE +7 @ ucla (winner)
WSU is a bit banged up, but so is Ucla. This is the last team that UCLA, or any team for that matter wants to play right now.


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