Mar 12, 2013, 12:00 PM EDT
The Pac-12 race this season had some similarities to the Mountain West race, in that there were two teams entering the season that many pegged to be the class of the conference. Arizona and UCLA, due in large part to the newcomers joining both programs, were thought by many to be far ahead of the other ten programs but the race didn’t exactly play out that way.
Ben Howland’s Bruins won the regular season title thanks not only to their talented freshmen but also due to the play of veterans who proved to be more useful than many anticipated. The Pac-12 race was tight all season, with Arizona, Oregon and even California having a shot at the Pac-12 crown. With that in mind look for the conference’s first weekend in Las Vegas to be just as unpredictable as most trips to Sin City. The only difference: someone goes home with the trophy and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Where: Las Vegas (MGM Grand Arena)
When: March 13th – March 16th
Final: March 16th, 11 p.m. (ESPN)
This is a group that’s had bouts with inconsistency, with a loss at Washington State last week being the most recent example of that. Drew led the Pac-12 in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, quite the turnaround given how things ended at North Carolina. Jordan Adams led the way for the freshmen to start the season, with Kyle Anderson and Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year Shabazz Muhammad hitting their stride as the season wore on. Those players, as well as Travis Wear, are the ones who will lead the way but UCLA will also need contributions from David Wear and Tony Parker inside.
And if they lose?: Arizona
The Wildcats were the best offensive team in the conference from an efficiency standpoint, which may come as a surprise to those who lament their lack of a “true” point guard. Sean Miller’s team has senior leadership in Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom and Mark Lyons, with Lyons being the one running the show, and sophomore Nick Johnson can be a factor on both ends of the floor.
A few keys for the Wildcats in Las Vegas: Lyons playing under control, the freshmen bigs holding their own inside and doing a better job of defending the three. Arizona was the worst team in the Pac-12 in three-point percentage defense, an interesting development when considering how good they’d been under Miller in the two season prior.
Other contenders: Oregon, California and Colorado are all capable of winning the tournament, with the Buffaloes needing to win four games in order to do so. Tad Boyle’s young team did just that last March, and in Spencer Dinwiddie and Andre Roberson he’s got two all-conference selections. (UPDATE: Roberson has been cleared to play.) Dominic Artis’ return makes Oregon a far better team when it comes to taking care of the basketball but they limp into the weekend after losing at both Colorado and Utah last week. As for the Golden Bears, Crabbe and Justin Cobbs form one of the league’s best perimeter tandems but they need consistent production from David Kravish and Richard Solomon inside if they’re to win.
Guards Aaron Bright and Chasson Randle are solid on the perimeter, and in Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell head coach Johnny Dawkins has two of the league’s better front court players as well. But will Stanford score as they did in wins over Utah and Cal to end the regular season? If so, the Cardinal may have a run left in them.
Deeper sleeper: Arizona State
With USC without the services of two big men this week it’s either the Sun Devils or Washington here. Despite their struggles of late (2-6 in their last eight games) take Arizona State, which is led by Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year Jahii Carson. Carson’s been a culture-changer of sorts for Herb Sendek’s program, and in senior Carrick Felix ASU has one of the best front court defenders around as well. The one concern: depth. Just six players average double-digit minutes, meaning that foul trouble will prove problematic as it did in their regular season finale at Arizona.
- G/F Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA): Third in the conference in scoring (18.3 ppg), Muhammad is the one Pac-12 player destined to end up in the 2013 NBA Draft lottery.
- G Allen Crabbe (California): Crabbe led the conference in scoring (18.6 ppg) but he’s doing more than that, grabbing five board or more in each of Cal’s last nine games.
- F Solomon Hill (Arizona): Don’t be fooled by the numbers (13.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Hill is one of the league’s most versatile players.
- F Brock Motum (Washington State): This is the swan song for Motum, and while the Cougars haven’t performed well he’s been one of the best players in the league.
Prediction: The third time is the charm for Arizona, who gets past a UCLA team that swept the season series on the way to its first Pac-12 tournament title since 2002.
Jun 19, 2013, 10:45 PM EDT
With Rutgers guard Jerome Seagears having a change of heart and deciding to return to New Brunswick after initially announcing his decision to transfer to Auburn, head coach Tony Barbee found himself in need of a guard. On Wednesday the school announced that 6-3 guard Malcolm Canada, who played at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa…
Jun 19, 2013, 9:35 PM EDT
Much has been made about the reaction to Kansas freshman wing Andrew Wiggins’ first workouts for his new coaching staff, with an unnamed source stating to Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com that watching Wiggins was “like watching a video game.” On Wednesday some lucky campers at the Kansas Basketball Camp got to watch Wiggins play some…
Jun 19, 2013, 8:06 PM EDT
Villanova landed its first verbal commitment in the 2015 class, as 6-9 forward Tim Delaney committed to the school according to multiple outlets. Delaney, who attends Pitman (N.J.) High School, held offers from schools such as Oregon State, Penn State and Rutgers and also visited both Indiana and Butler according to Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com.…
Jun 19, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
With talented players such as forward Ryan Anderson and guard Olivier Hanlan returning, there’s a feeling among many that Boston College can be one of the ACC’s most improved teams in 2013-14. A group that has taken its share of lumps in Steve Donahue’s first two seasons on the Heights, the Eagles took both eventual…
Jun 19, 2013, 5:20 PM EDT
Kentucky Speedway announced on Wednesday that Kentucky head coach John Calipari has been named the honorary pace car driver for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400, which takes place on June 29. In the release, Speedway general manager Mark Simendinger proclaimed the opening lap to be “one of the quickest fast breaks in…
Jun 19, 2013, 3:56 PM EDT
With the addition of Pacific, the West Coast Conference will have ten members beginning with the 2013-14 campaign. The arrival of the Tigers not only helps from a scheduling standpoint, but it also necessitated a change in the format the WCC uses for its conference tournament. The WCC announced the changes on Wednesday, with seeds…
Jun 19, 2013, 3:35 PM EDT
It’s no secret that Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor want to play their college ball together. They’ve been talking about it for a while, and given the fact that they are both ranked in the top three for Rivals Class of 2014 — Okafor is currently No. 1 while Jones is No. 3 — I’m…
Jun 19, 2013, 2:49 PM EDT
Earlier this month, Alabama forward Devonta Pollard was arrested and charged in conjunction with the kidnapping of a six-year old girl over a family land dispute. Given that he was facing a serious felony charge, one could only imagine that Pollard would only be a member of the Crimson Tide for so long, and on…
Jun 19, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT
Spike Albrecht spent the majority of the college basketball season as the answer to a trivia question: Who is the little white kid that backs up Trey Burke, the best player in the country? The way the 2012-2013 campaign ended, however, was much, much different. If you’ve forgotten, the kid who was signed late by…
Jun 19, 2013, 1:06 PM EDT
Northwestern head coach Chris Collins has filled out his coaching staff, as he added Armon Gates as his third assistant coach on Tuesday. Gates is a Chicago native that spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at Loyola (IL). “We’re very excited to add Armon to our staff,” Collins said in a statement…
Jun 19, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT
Darius Cobb, Ben McLemore’s former AAU coach, will be meeting with the NCAA’s Enforcement staff today to discuss the involvement that Rodney Blackstock had with the former Kansas all-american and those close to him, according to a report from Eric Prisbell of USA Today. That could end up being a thorn in the side of…
Jun 19, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT
A recent growing buzzword in college basketball is the importance of the “culture” of a program. Culture within a college basketball program dictates how things work and it’s use as a word and as a concept is meant to influence players — and in some cases fans — into believing that certain activities or teachings…
Jun 19, 2013, 10:52 AM EDT
Mark Few picked up his first commitment in the Class of 2014 as Portland native and Rivals top 150 shooting guard Silas Melson pledged to the Zags on Tuesday night, according to a report from ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman. Here’s how ESPN breaks down his game: He has a smooth shooting stroke out to 20-feet and…
Jun 19, 2013, 10:17 AM EDT
Michigan State needed Adreian Payne to return to school if they were going to make a run at a national title. With Derrick Nix graduating and with their only incoming front court player being Gavin Schilling — who isn’t exactly the second coming of Greg Oden — Tom Izzo’s team was going to have a…
Jun 18, 2013, 11:25 PM EDT
If you aren’t familiar with Vine, it’s an app that allows users to record up to six seconds worth of video. That was plenty of time for Tennessee rising junior forward Jarnell Stokes to film Oklahoma State star sophomore guard Marcus Smart taking a sideline bounce pass and throwing down a 360 slam while the…
Jun 18, 2013, 10:12 PM EDT
Gorgui Dieng is gearing up for next Thursday for the 2013 NBA Draft. On Tuesday, following a workout with the New York Knicks, the former Louisville center had time to talk about his old team. “I think they’re going to have a better team this year,” Dieng told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com and SNY.tv on…
Jun 18, 2013, 8:42 PM EDT
A week after being cut loose by Iowa State, Indian Hills Community College forward Richard Amardi made a commitment to the Oregon Ducks. He has one year of eligibility left. Jeff Goodman first reported the news via Twitter on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-9 Amardi was on the wrong-end of a scholarship issue. He had originally committed…
Jun 18, 2013, 7:52 PM EDT
After three years with the Penn State program, rising junior forward Jon Graham was granted a release and will be allowed to transfer for his final two seasons of eligibility, the school announced on Tuesday afternoon. “Jon and I have had several meetings to discuss his future and he has decided to seek opportunities to…
Jun 18, 2013, 6:42 PM EDT
The return of Greg Whittington was going to be a crucial for the Georgetown Hoyas, entering next season without Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter. However, on Tuesday it was confirmed that Whittington has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. “Greg will return when he is 100 percent healthy,”Georgetown head coach John…
Jun 18, 2013, 5:46 PM EDT
Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.) was one of 12 players selected to the USA Basketball Under-16 team, playing in the FIBA World Championship in Uruguay. The 6-foot-9 2016 recruit injured his left knee on Wednesday in a win over Argentina. On Tuesday, Giles told Jason Jordan of USA Today that he torn his ACL and MCL.…
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