Pac-12 M5: 03.19.13 EditionPosted by PBaruh on March 19th, 2013
- Ben Howland’s future at UCLA is still in question. Howland has deflected all questions about his job status to athletic director Dan Guerrero, and with a difficult match-up looming against Minnesota in the NCAA Tournament, it’s still not clear what the head coach needs to do to keep his job in Westwood. Would a Sweet Sixteen appearance suffice or is a Final Four appearance necessary? If Howland were to be relieved of his duties at the end of this year, he would leave UCLA with a career 233-106 record (as of now), four conference titles, and three Final Four appearances. No matter the accolades Howland and UCLA have racked up in his tenure, though, it has to be noted that the Bruins didn’t qualify for the NCAA Tournament in two out of the past three seasons and therefore it wouldn’t be a shock to see him fired at the end of the season.
- Although Arizona ended the season poorly, the selection committee still considered the Wildcats as the top team in the Pac-12 from a seeding perspective. If UCLA freshman Jordan Adams hadn’t suffered a season-ending foot injury in the Pac-12 Tournament, the Wildcats’ fate may have been different according to committee chair Mike Bobinski. Despite the Bruins and Wildcats both getting #6 seeds, the Wildcats were given the geographical advantage with the chance to play in the West Region in Los Angeles whereas the Bruins would have to play their games in Arlington, Texas.
- The selection committee’s message to the Pac-12 on Sunday seemed to be that the conference still has a lot to prove. The conference was given little respect as Oregon received a peculiar #12 seed after winning the Pac-12 Tournament. Also, an argument can be made that both UCLA and Arizona were deserving of higher seeds given that both teams finished in the final AP Top 25. Although the conference vastly improved from last year’s inferior product, its track record in the NCAA Tournament in recent years hasn’t been anything to brag about. In the past four years, only three teams from the Pac-12 have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
- If Oregon freshman Dominic Artis feels any nerves before his first NCAA Tournament game, he has a pretty good mentor who he could call on for advice. The Ducks’ point guard has known former Weber State and current Portland Trail Blazers’ guard Damian Lillard since grade school in Oakland and the two don’t differ much on the court. Both are confident, inspiring young players in their respective leagues at the point guard position and the duo talks almost every other week. The Ducks will certainly need Artis to play great this week as they will take on Oklahoma State. Artis will have to deal with imposing Cowboys’ point guard and USBWA All-American Marcus Smart, but he won’t shy away from the challenge any more than Lillard would.
- Washington State athletic director Bill Moos hasn’t made a decision yet about head coach Ken Bone‘s status. Although Bone hasn’t done anything to exceed expectations in Pullman, he did finish the season on a high note by upsetting USC and UCLA at home and nearly taking down Washington in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. Bone doesn’t seem to be concerned about his status, but if he were to let go, Washington State would owe him a buyout of $2.55 million next year.