Pac-12 Teams and Feast Week

Posted by Andrew Murawa on November 24th, 2014

It’s Feast Week, an ESPN creation that began with the Maui Invitational and the Preseason NIT back in the mid-80s and has morphed into a month-long parade of mini-tournaments that serves as college basketball’s introduction. Pac-12 schools kicked off their involvement in these exempt events last week with middling success, as the Bay Area schools each notched one impressive victory followed by a sobering loss in a championship game against a top 10 team. This week, Arizona and UCLA represent the conference in what have become the premier events of their kind: the venerable Maui Invitational and the new kid on the block, the Battle 4 Atlantis. Below, we’ll take a look at the Wildcats’ and the Bruins’ draws in their events, along with Washington’s appearance in the Wooden Legacy and Oregon’s presence in the Legends Classic.

Maui Invitational: Arizona

Opening Game: vs. Missouri (11/24, 2PM PST, ESPN2). The Wildcats get started against a Missouri team that got off to a rough start under new head coach Kim Anderson, with a loss to UMKC on the opening night of the season. With last year’s top three leading scorers now gone, the Tigers are relying on sophomore point guard Wes Clark, freshman scorer Montaque Gill-Caesar, frontcourt specimen Jonathan Williams III and Hawaii transfer Keith Shamburger to provide offense. If Clark, Gill-Caesar and Shamburger can get hot from deep, the Tigers could stick around for awhile, but Arizona’s overall athleticism should give the Wildcats a significant advantage.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson And The Crew Will See An Increased Level Of Competition In Maui (Mike Christy, Arizona Daily Star)

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson And The Crew Will See An Increased Level Of Competition In Maui (Mike Christy, Arizona Daily Star)

Please God Let Us See: Arizona vs. San Diego State in the Championship Game

Let’s face it — this is by no means a classic Maui field. But if these two teams advance to the title game as expected, we could have a real West Coast classic on Thanksgiving Eve. A budding geographic rivalry, a match-up on West Maui would be something to be thankful for indeed. These teams faced each other twice last season with the Wildcats dispatching the Aztecs both times, including a Sweet Sixteen battle royale in Anaheim. With Steve Fisher needing to replace leading scorer – and just plain old leader – Xavier Thames, the Aztecs probably aren’t quite as far along as the Wildcats are, but they’ve got the length and athleticism to make guys like Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson compete against guys of similar ability.

Battle 4 Atlantis: UCLA

Opening Game: vs. Oklahoma (11/26, 11:30AM PST, ESPN2). In a loaded field, any team in this tournament will be tested throughout the event. But in order to have a good chance to see teams like North Carolina, Wisconsin or Florida down the road, these teams need to square off against each other in the second game of the tournament’s first day for the right to stay on the championship side of the bracket. The Sooners have already dropped a game at Creighton, frittering away a double-digit second-half lead, but are talented and experienced. UCLA’s guards will be tested by the Oklahoma triumvirate of Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard, and we’ll get a chance to see if Steven Alford goes to a man-to-man or zone defense against a talented backcourt. Both teams probably have offenses that are ahead of their defenses, so turn in early on Thanksgiving Eve for a potential shootout with serious consequences.

Buddy Hield And The Sooners Will Pose A Serious Question To The UCLA Perimeter Defense

Buddy Hield And The Sooners Will Pose A Serious Question To The UCLA Perimeter Defense

Please God Let Us See: UCLA vs. Wisconsin in the Championship Game

Really, in this field, any combination of teams looks pretty darn appealing (such as Wisconsin/North Carolina in the title game), but for the purposes of a Pac-centric blog, give us the Bruins and the Badgers here. Frank Kaminsky and company looked pretty tough on Saturday night in blowing out Boise State, but the Bruins guards could be capable of keeping them in the game.

Legends Classic: Oregon

Opening Game: vs. Michigan (11/24 6PM PST, ESPN3). You’ve gotta go out of your way to find this game, but if you do, you’ll get a chance to see if the Ducks are for real. Three wins over increasingly significant competition topped out with a 10-point win over Toledo, but now it gets real against a Wolverines’ squad that is beginning a shift away from the highly successful teams of the recent past. Much like those teams, however, early indications are that this team can really score, with Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin leading the attack from the perimeter. Oregon’s Joseph Young remains among the best shooters in the nation, but we’ll get a good first glimpse at Ducks newcomers Dillon Brooks, Ahmaad Rorie, Dwayne Benjamin and Jordan Bell against legitimate competition.

Please God Let Us See: Oregon vs. VCU, anytime, anyplace

My first instinct was to say please god let us see Oregon/Michigan on an actual TV channel, but that duck has flown. Instead, we’ll got with this high-octane matchup. VCU has averaged 76 possessions per game so far, good for fourth in the nation; Oregon a measly 70 by comparison. The Rams are known for forcing turnovers; but seven of the Ducks’ eight rotation players are solid ball-handlers. At the very least, VCU would test those guys enough to determine just how solid they are. With Villanova the fourth team in this tournament, all four of the match-ups at the Barclays Center are going to be very good, but this has the potential to be one of the more underrated games of the week.

Wooden Legacy: Washington

Opening Game: vs. San Jose State (11/27, 8PM PST, ESPN2). This match-up may not be the type of game to nudge you out of your post-Thanksgiving coma, but if you can rally enough to dig into your leftover stash, watching the Huskies against Rashad Muhammad and the Spartans should be mildly entertaining. This is not the type of game this Huskies’ squad should lose, but with early season losses to UC Irvine and Albany in the history books the last couple years, you can never be sure.

Please God Let Us See: The Wooden Legacy in 2015:

This year’s field includes the Huskies, Xavier, Long Beach State, UTEP, San Diego, snore and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Honestly, I’m not sure. There are eight teams in this field. On Thanksgiving Sunday, these eight teams will be playing in the 18-some-thousand seat Honda Center, of which 17-some-thousand seats will be empty. But next year? Oh my. Arizona, Michigan State, Providence, Boston College, UC Irvine, snore and zzzzzzzzzzzz. Okay, honestly, the field drops pretty drastically after that second name there, but when you’ve got Sean Miller and Tom Izzo bringing their teams along, there is plenty worth paying attention to.

AMurawa (999 Posts)

Andrew Murawa Likes Basketball.

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *