Marching to Vegas: The Final Steps

Posted by Adam Butler (@pachoopsab) on March 7th, 2014

Adam Butler (@pachoopsab) of Pachoops again will be joining us all year, providing us with his weekly take on our favorite conference, as we begin the March to Las Vegas.We find ourselves on the penultimate day of the basketball season. A season, like those before it, that has seen highs and low, cliché, cliché, cliché. I’ve been critical of the Pac, supportive of the Pac, predictive, analytical, and funny. I’ve defended it multiple times and sang praise, too. I’ve linked this entire lead. But the point here is that we’re here. The calendar has turned to our favorite month. Our March to Vegas is over. Our season embarks into the madness of sudden death and the promise of possibility. Tournaments begin (ultimately two of them) with abundant hope and now I’m getting lost in Waltonian hyperbole; but if not hyperbole then what is March for? I mean, look at our first and only conference games thus far in the month. The home and road teams have nearly split their contests. To date, home teams had been winning at a greater than 66 percent clip. Suddenly we get to the third month on the calendar and nothing becomes predictable. Each of Wednesday’s road teams won and then, in perhaps the most unexpected of outcomes, the Trojans got their second victory. Indeed we’re knee deep in the madness and we aren’t even in Vegas yet.

Behind A High-Flying Arizona Team, The Pac Is Back, Right? (Ralph Freso, Getty Images North America)

Behind A High-Flying Arizona Team, The Pac Is Back, Right? (Ralph Freso, Getty Images North America)

But before we get there, I’d like to revisit our first thought. When I lauded that the Pac was back before nary a game was played. Is it back? Or, perhaps more aptly said, has it returned? With the benefit of hindsight, I’d say it is. Look at what we have: arguably the best crop of guards in the nation and the best defense the nation has to offer. We watched the emergence of Utah, a budding program under the hard-nosed and determined watch of Larry Krystkowiak. And have you watched Delon Wright? I didn’t see that coming and if you did, link me to what you said about it because I’d like to buy you a drink. What a phenomenal player who is coming back next season. And still has this season to play (I see you, Vegas). Further, we watched what I believe to be the best backcourt in the country. Or at least the most dynamic. Between Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, is there anything they can’t do? And if there is, they could just toss it up to Zach LaVine and it might be all right.

We saw some good ones fall. Spencer Dinwiddie and Brandon Ashley will someday make NBA money. During this season their bodies let them down but their teams have not. Colorado is almost squarely in line for its third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid despite dropping four of its first five games without The Mayor. And the Wildcats? With Brandon on the bench they’ve reinvented themselves in a swifter mode. The transition Cats were found after dropping two of four with him out and now find themselves the projected number one overall seed. A role no Pac-12 team has played since 2008.

While we have less than exciting things to say coming out of Washington State and USC, we can note how terrific DaVonte Lacy and Dunk City have been. On the former, he’s missed an unfortunate chunk of season but he can score as well as anyone. Nearly 20 per game to be exact at a wildly effective 56 percent eFG. Meanwhile, Andy Enfield and his high flying offense arrived and didn’t disappoint. Well, they kind of did. As of this posting they’d won just two conference games (congrats on last night’s game) but they’ve still managed the 29th highest percentage of shots at the rim (45.5%). That leads the conference and matches his output with the original Dunk City (45.7% last season). Promising? I like to think so.

And you know what else is promising? Vegas and beyond. The Pac is back and what we’ve already seen, we’ve enjoyed. What we’re soon to see we will enjoy as well, after all, it’s March. Let’s sit up, not relax, and expect nothing.

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