Pac-12 Morning Five: 02.15.12 Edition
Posted by AMurawa on February 15th, 2012
- Most years, when USC and UCLA get together to renew their rivalry, it is at least worth a spot on the college basketball fan’s playlist. This year, with a combined record of 20-31, maybe not so much. Still, for the teams involved, this is a big deal. USC had plans to practice on Tuesday just down the street from their campus, at the Sports Arena, where the Bruins are playing most of their home games this season while Pauley Pavilion undergoes renovations. However, UCLA objected to those plans and contacted the Pac-12 office for clarification, finding that conference rules do not allow for the visiting team to practice at the home team’s venue the day prior to either a one-game road trip or the first game of a two-game trip. There’s no doubt, despite the fact that both of these teams are struggling through down years, UCLA would love to complete the season sweep of the hated Trojans.
- Just how bad has it been for the Los Angeles schools this year? To begin with, UCLA, without question the biggest basketball program Southern California and one of the giants in the nation, is just the sixth ranked team in its own state, according to the Sagarin ratings, behind California, Saint Mary’s, Long Beach State, San Diego State, and Stanford. Still, that puts them far ahead of USC, a team that is struggling through its worst year in school history, a year that has taken all of the fun out of the game.
- After reeling off five straight wins to take over first place in the conference, Washington laid an egg last Thursday night at Oregon. For a team that was already destined to be bubble-bound, barring a win at the Pac-12 Tournament in March, that made the situation down the stretch very clear; as Lorenzo Romar put it on Tuesday: “every game is crucial.” However, despite the loss at Oregon, the Huskies RPI continues to climb, up 14 spots to #62 in this week’s official rankings. Still, an RPI that low is not likely to garner a team much support when the selection committee gets together in just under a month. Aside from winning the conference tournament, the best case scenario is find a win to take down the regular season title.
- We’ve talked about the Player of the Year race in our weekly conference check-in, naming Jorge Gutierrez as our favorite for the time being. Bob Clark of The Register Guard takes it one step further, saying that Gutierrez should be an “almost unanimous selection” when the time comes to vote, with guys like Jared Cunningham, Tony Wroten, and Andre Roberson trailing the leader. “Almost unanimous” may be a stretch, but it certainly looks like Gutierrez is the lead horse right now.
- Arizona has gone to a seven-man rotation over the last three games, while sophomore guard Jordin Mayes has sat out with a stress fracture in his foot. But, he’s getting closer to being ready to come back, and it is possible that he could return for limited action Saturday against Washington. It appears more likely that he is still a week away, as Sean Miller says he isn’t optimistic about Mayes’ chances this week, but given that it was thought Mayes could be out for the season, the fact that his return seems likely is a bit of good news.
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