What We Learned This Week in the Pac-12Posted by PBaruh on January 23rd, 2013
Here are some takeaways from the week that was in the Pac-12:
Oregon New Leader of Pac
- After beating UCLA 76-67 on Saturday, Oregon is now the favorite to win the Pac-12. Without question, the three best teams in the league are UCLA, Arizona and Oregon, in no particular order. Oregon no longer has to play Arizona or UCLA for the rest of the season, though, and they have already won a game each against the other two. On the other hand, the Bruins and Wildcats will play each other twice with one of those games coming this Thursday at the McKale Center in Tucson. Also, Arizona still needs to travel to the Coors Event Center to play Colorado, and the Buffaloes will certainly want to get revenge on the Wildcats after their heartbreaking loss in Arizona to start off conference play. The scheduling factor is a big reason why the Ducks are the favorite now to win the Pac-12, but they also deserve to be the favorite considering their overall play.
- Oregon has been getting production from every spot on the floor as each starter is averaging over 10 points per game. Their bench has been superb with great play from Johnathan Loyd and Arsalan Kazemi. They have the size to match up with every team in the Pac-12 with Tony Woods and Waverly Austin inside and also have a talented enough backcourt with Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis on the perimeter. Also, it’s impossible to forget about E.J. Singler despite his inconsistency this year. Going forward, the Ducks take on Washington and Washington State at home, but after that, they’ll have to take a road trip to the Bay Area to play Cal and Stanford. It won’t be easy for them to get a sweep there, but if they can get past that weekend unblemished, the Ducks could very well end up being the surprise Pac-12 champion.
- Washington may have been given too much credit for their hot start in the Pac-12. The Huskies began conference play with three consecutive road wins, but after their weekend play against Colorado and Utah, are the Huskies a legitimate contender in the Pac-12? Despite beating the Buffaloes, that was truly a poor performance from both teams and they followed that up with a home loss to a Utah squad that hadn’t previously won in the Pac-12 this year. Their defense had been key to their early success in conference play, but they gave up 74 points to Utah.
- Offensively, the combination of C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs, and Abdul Gaddy shot 10-of-36 from the field and showed once against how inconsistent the Huskies offense can be. Yes, Washington is 4-1, but they’ve beaten two teams in Cal and Stanford who haven’t been very impressive thus far in Pac-12 play. They’ve also beaten a bad team in Washington State, and a team that plays horribly on the road in Colorado. Ultimately, we’ll know a lot more about Washington after its upcoming five-game stretch against Oregon State, Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State, and UCLA to determine if this team is for real or more just a product of playing some easy opponents early in conference play.
- There was a point earlier this season when the Colorado Buffaloes making the NCAA Tournament was a sure thing, but things have certainly changed for Tad Boyle’s team. In Joe Lunardi’s latest projection Colorado is listed as a number nine seed, but a more concerning issue is how poorly they have played since the second half of the Arizona State game and how they keep trending downward. The Buffs have a very strong resume based on their non-conference schedule, but how much longer will that be able to keep them in the field of 68? This team has looked out of sync offensively and still just cannot play well away from Boulder. After another disappointing road loss against Washington and a suspect road victory over Washington State, this team doesn’t seem like one that could have contended for a conference title as it previously had early in the season. In order to get back to its early-season success, Colorado will need to find Josh Scott as often as possible in the post and Spencer Dinwiddie will need to have a score-first mentality rather than dishing or settling for jumpers as he has in previous games. The road woes are likely to continue, but if they can win against the bottom half of the conference on the road and bounce back with a sweep of Cal and Stanford this weekend at home, the Buffs might be able to save their once promising season.