2013-14 RTC Class Schedule: Arizona Wildcats

Posted by BHayes on September 26th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler. Periodically throughout the preseason, RTC will take an in-depth look at the schedules of some of the more prominent teams in college basketball.

Sean Miller’s fifth season in Tuscon could easily turn out to be his best. Despite the graduation of key seniors Solomon Hill (a first round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft), Mark Lyons, and Kevin Parrom – in addition to the surprising departure of freshman Grant Jerrett to the professional ranks, Miller has assembled the most talented roster that Arizona has seen in quite some time. A solid Pac-12 conference and challenging non-conference schedule will challenge the Cats’, but a nice blend of returnees and newcomers should give the man at the helm ample leeway to steer this storied program deep into March.

Nick Johnson will be asked to do more -- both on and off the court -- for this young but talented Wildcat team

Nick Johnson will be asked to do more — both on and off the court — for this young but talented Wildcat team

  • Team Outlook: This will be a new-look Arizona team, as last year’s squad was built around departed seniors Lyons and Hill. Some familiar faces will be back and poised to fill leadership roles this time around, with junior Nick Johnson (11.5 PPG, 3.2 APG, 1.9 SPG) most prominent among them. The athletic two-guard shot the ball better from three-point range as a sophomore (39% after 32% as a freshman), and should also serve as the Cats’ best perimeter defender in 2013-14. Sophomores Kaleb Tarczewski (6.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 22.2 MPG) and Brandon Ashley (7.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 20.5 MPG) return to anchor the frontcourt, with each likely seeing a slight minutes increase, despite the arrival of a duo of freshman studs in the same frontcourt. Both Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were McDonald’s All-Americans last spring, and immense immediate contributions from both freshmen would surprise no one. Gordon especially shapes up as a good candidate for a jump to the NBA after a season of stardom in Tuscon, as he is currently projected as a Top-20 pick in the 2014 draft on NBADraft.net. Gordon’s production will be one of the keys to this Wildcat season, but he may not be Sean Miller’s most important player. Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell (11.4 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2.8 SPG in 2011-12) will be filling Lyons’ shoes and running the show in Tucson this season. McConnell was an efficient lead guard in the Atlantic-10 and should quickly acclimate to the Pac-12, but the absence of proven ball-handlers elsewhere on the roster means his transition has to be a smooth one for Arizona to be successful. He will be a welcomed change-of-pace for teammates used to the shoot-first Lyons dominating the ball, and his steal % of 4.7 (12th best in the nation in 2012) is ample indication of a dedication to both ends. The talented youngsters around him will keep expectations low for McConnell individually, but don’t be shocked if he emerges as the leader of this club. Read the rest of this entry »
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Andre Roberson Leaving Early: What Does It Mean For Him and Colorado?

Posted by AMurawa on April 29th, 2013

On Sunday afternoon, the final missing piece in the Pac-12 early entry decisions came down, as Colorado junior forward Andre Roberson announced his intention to bypass his final year of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft. Roberson led the conference in rebounding the last two years (11.2 RPG in 2012-13, and 11.1 RPG in 2011-12) and was the Defensive Player of the Year, not only for his rebounding but also for his ability to match up with players at several different positions. Roberson had previously called a press conference for Friday to announce his choice, but cancelled that due to some remaining indecision. But now that the verdict is in, it will have a major impact on Roberson’s career going forward as well as the short-term prognosis for the Buffaloes.

Andre Roberson

The Pac-12′s Leading Rebounder The Last Two Years, Andre Roberson, Will Forego His Final Year Of Eligibility

For Roberson, it wasn’t a slam dunk choice. Yes, he’s an excellent rebounder and defender, but he’s still just a 6’7” small forward with a limited offensive game outside of the paint. As a result, he’s a borderline prospect at best – nobody projects him as a first round pick and there’s a strong possibility he will go undrafted in June. But that doesn’t mean he won’t have a future playing pro basketball. His athleticism and nose for the ball alone will make him a useful piece for somebody somewhere around the globe. But as far as his near-term NBA prospects? Project number one is to do everything possible to improve his inconsistent jumper. In his three seasons at Colorado, he hit a grand total of 50 three-pointers, with his long range average dipping from 38% in his sophomore campaign to 32.8% last season. Throw in an additional three feet in the NBA to earn that extra point and Roberson is clearly not a guy who should be expected to be a prolific NBA shooter in the immediate future. Still, if he can make strides in that area while focusing entirely on basketball over the next few years, he could be an NBA player in due time.

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Morning Five: 04.29.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 29th, 2013

morning5

  1. There were so many early-entry decisions over the past three days that we will have break them into groups. The first group will be the guys who left. Perhaps the most notable is Shane Larkin, who is leaving Miami after a sophomore year in which he took his stock from not being on the NBA’s radar to being a potential first round pick. We are not quite sold on Larkin as a NBA point guard–his limitations were exposed in a few games this season–but we do not see his NBA Draft stock getting much higher especially with how little Miami will be returning next season so it made sense for him to leave. On a smaller scale, but probably more important in terms of the landscape of his conference Ray McCallum Jr. announced that he is leaving Detroit after his junior season. McCallum is in a similar Draft position or possibly a little worse than what Larkin is based on the mock drafts that we have seen, but given the information that his father (Detroit’s coach) has we would expect that he has some pretty good information on where he could expect to be selected. Finally, there is Andre Roberson, Tad Boyle’s first recruit in Boulder, who announced that he will forgo his senior season at Colorado to enter the NBA Draft. Roberson’s draft stock appears to be similar to the other two although Roberson’s position in mock drafts has varied more than the other two.
  2. While a trio of players announced their departure from the college game another trio announced that they will be staying. The most significant in terms of the national championship picture is Adreian Payne, who announced that he will return to Michigan State for his senior season. Out of all of the players considering entering the NBA Draft early opinion on Payne may have been the most divided. He probably could have come out and been a first-round pick, but if he returns and improves his game he should be a lottery pick next year. The next biggest announcement was the Isaiah Austin will be returning to Baylor for his sophomore season. Austin seemed to be a fairly safe bet to be a first-round pick so his decision is a bit surprising, but it has been reported that he was diagnosed with a torn labrum, which would affect his NBA Draft workouts, and he clearly has some areas to work on his game so it doesn’t seem unreasonable. We will leave the question of coming back to Scott Drew to work on those deficiencies for another column. Shabazz Napier may not garner the same headlines as the other two players that we mentioned, but his decision to return to Connecticut for his senior season may have an equally significant impact on his team’s success. We are glad that Napier decided to return to school because he was at best a late second round pick although the fact that he waited so long to announce might suggest that someone was putting thoughts in his head that he could have been a first-round pick. Fortunately he did not listen to those voices and will return to finish his college career in Storrs.
  3. Most of the attention has been focused on NBA Draft decisions, but there were a pair of notable transfers. On Friday, Ahmad Starks announced that he is transferring from Oregon State. Starks, who has one more season of eligibility left is reportedly looking at Bradley or Illinois to be close to his ailing grandmother. Starks would be a huge addition for either program and given the way the family hardship waivers have been getting cleared by the NCAA we have no doubt that he would be able to play next season. The other transfer announcement is more of an update as Rutgers transfer Eli Carter has narrowed his list down to Florida and Maryland. Normally we would assume that Carter would have to sit out a year, but after the NCAA’s ruling on the players at Rice and how they received a waiver due to the abuse they alleged at the school we would not be surprised to see Carter and other Rutgers transfers to try for a similar waiver given the video evidence against Mike Rice.
  4. We may have finally moved past conference realignment, but it appears that conferences are looking at creating their own version of Manifest Destiny as the ACC is looking at expanding its brand into Europe by playing games there. As the article notes the entire idea is in the preliminary stages so a lot of work needs to be done, but other schools have played games overseas with some success. Our big qustion is how this would work at the conference level. It works great when teams are playing glorified exhibition games or when there is well-defined revenue-sharing the way that professional leagues do, but what happens when a school loses a lucrative home-game that could be the difference between them becoming bowl-eligible or being on the right side of the bubble. Obviously pro sports teams deal with this issue too, but they have more well-defined revenue-sharing agreements and have a much stronger central leadership structure that allows them to issue edicts that will be followed.
  5. It is a move that probably will not attract much attention on the coaching carousel, but UNC-Asheville filled its head coaching vacancy as it introduced Nick McDevitt as its next head coach. McDevitt, who played for the school from 1997 to 2001, had been an assistant with the team before taking over the head coaching responsibilities when the former coach left to take a job on the staff at UNC-Wilmington. McDevitt has no experience as a head coach so we are withholding judgement on his ability to coach so hopefully his alma mater gives him a chance to prove himself.
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Colorado Post-Mortem

Posted by PBaruh on April 23rd, 2013

Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Here’s a look at Colorado.

What Went Right 

Spencer Dinwiddie was key for Colorado's offense this year.

Spencer Dinwiddie was key for Colorado’s offense this year.

Despite losing three starters from last year’s team, the Buffaloes had a lot of things go right for them in 2012-13. Spencer Dinwiddie improved tremendously from his freshman season by becoming the go-to scorer. Dinwiddie led the team in scoring at 15.6 points per game and sported a true shooting percentage at 59.1 percent. His two best games of the year came against NCAA Tournament teams Colorado State and Arizona at the Coors Event Center as he tallied 50 points and nine assists in the two contests. Andre Roberson was once again a double-double machine, averaging 10.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game in another strong season. In what was viewed by some as a possible rebuilding season, the Buffaloes responded with an at-large NCAA bid and a squad that competed if not actually challenging for the Pac-12 title.

What Went Wrong

They were certainly some letdown games from the Buffaloes as they lost to league bottom-dwellers Utah on the road and Oregon State at home. Colorado had a tendency to start lackadaisically against inferior opponents and it hurt them in several games. Individually, Askia Booker disappeared in conference play. The MVP of the Charleston Classic was irrelevant in the Pac-12 and finished with a 42.2 effective field goal percentage on the year. Booker certainly didn’t let his struggles deter him from shooting the ball as he attempted 11 or more field goals in all but two conference games.

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Pac-12 M5: 04.12.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on April 12th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Steve Alford issued a statement yesterday apologizing for the way he handled the Pierre Pierce situation at Iowa. Alford constantly defended Pierce at Iowa after he was accused of sexual assault even after Pierce pled guilty. When Alford took over at UCLA last week, the topic came up once again when Dan Bernstein published a column entitled “Alford already lying at UCLA”. It was the right move for Alford to apologize, but it didn’t make sense that he waited nine years to do so.
  2. The Pac-12 has launched an independent review of the officiating that occurred at the Pac-12 Tournament this year. Even with Ed Rush’s resignation, the conference must determine whether the officials were influenced by external factors during the games in Las Vegas. Additionally, the review will focus on how to improve the officiating overall — a recurring hot topic among league fans. This is a step in the right direction for the Pac-12 given the inconsistent and often very poor officiating that occurred this season.
  3. Standout freshman Jahii Carson will return for another year at Arizona State. Carson was not going to be a lottery pick in this year’s draft and still needs to improve his jumper and scoring ability against bigger guards. With Carson’s return to Tempe, the pressure now will be put on Herb Sendek to produce results with his team. While Sendek has been in Tempe, he has only made the NCAA Tournament once in seven years, and that simply won’t cut it. The Sun Devils will lose Carrick Felix, but they return Jordan Bachynski and Carson and will need to make a run at the postseason.
  4. Tad Boyle said yesterday at his season-ending press conference that Andre Roberson is getting “misinformation” that may be preventing him from deciding on whether he will declare for the NBA Draft. Many projections have Roberson going in the second round and some have him possibly not even getting drafted at all. Boyle noted that this is a very different situation than that of Alec Burks two years ago, where it was almost certain that he would get picked in the lottery. There’s a lot more risk for Roberson as a result. If Roberson does decide to leave school, Colorado will be prepared to move on. The Buffaloes will return four starters, have a deeper bench, and bring in three talented recruits. If Roberson decides to stay, there will be a spot for him in the lineup and the Buffaloes could potentially be a Top 15 team with the 6’7″ forward around for another season.
  5. Kevin Parrom’s career at Arizona has officially ended. Parrom tweeted recently that he won’t apply for a waiver request that would grant him a fifth year of eligibility. There was a slim chance of this happening as Arizona was expected to appeal and include the adversity Parrom faced as a main reason for the player to receive another year. Parrom was shot and lost his mother and grandmother as well within a short period of time in 2011. In Parrom’s final season, he averaged 8.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game — although he is unlikely to make a roster in the NBA, he certainly has the ability to play overseas somewhere.
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Rushed Reactions: #7 Illinois 57, #10 Colorado 49

Posted by WCarey on March 22nd, 2013

RTC_final4_atlanta

Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game between #7 Illinois and #10 Colorado in Austin.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Colorado dug itself a hole in the first half. A major reason why the Buffaloes were unable to win this game was because they played terribly in the first half. Colorado should get credit for clawing back into the game – and briefly taking a lead – but it needs to be acknowledged that the first half was owned by Illinois. When Andre Roberson hit a jumper to trim Illinois’ lead to 24-21 at the 7:06 mark of the first half, that was the last time Colorado scored in the opening frame. The Illini went on a 13-0 run to finish the half and went into the half with what at the time seemed like a comfortable 16-point lead. The Buffaloes only shot 34.8% from the field in the first half and committed eight turnovers, which led to 15 points for the Illini.

    In a game defined by huge runs, Illinois ultimately tallied the biggest surge, giving its fans plenty to cheer about. (Getty)

    In a game defined by huge runs, Illinois ultimately tallied the biggest surge, giving its fans plenty to cheer about. (Getty)

  2. This was a game of pretty absurd runs. Illinois went on a 13-0 run to finish the first half. Colorado went on a 23-2 run to begin the second half. Illinois went on an 18-5 run to end the game. Usually it is pretty crazy when a game has one of the aforementioned runs, but this game had three of them and they occurred back-to-back-to-back. Both teams definitely deserve credit for fighting back from trends in the game that were extremely undesirable. Following the game Colorado coach Tad Boyle stated, “We ultimately just did not have enough,” which shows just how taxing the 23-2 run to get back into the game was for the Buffaloes.
  3. Illinois needs to play a lot better if it wants any shot of upsetting Miami on Sunday. The Illini were able to play with the fire and still get by Colorado, but if they want to pull the upset of a very good Miami team Sunday then they need to put forth a much more consistent effort. If Illinois allows Miami to go on a 23-2 run and only manages three field goals in one half, there is a very good chance it will be blown out by the Hurricanes. Guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson are Illinois’ most important players and they were just a combined 8-of-26 from the field and committed a combined seven turnovers against Colorado. Miami has very strong guard play, so both Paul and Richardson are going to need shoot better and take better care of the basketball if the Illini want any chance of pulling the stunner.

Star of the Game. Brandon Paul, Illinois. Paul was just 3-of-12 from the field on the afternoon, but his very strong free throw shooting is what clinched the victory for the Illini. Paul finished 9-of-10 from the charity stripe and made 5-of-6 in the last 1:06 of the game. Paul’s strong performance from the line put the game out of reach for Colorado. D.J. Richardson was also considered, as his 11-point performance in the first half was a huge reason why the Illini were able to build a 16-point halftime lead.

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Pac-12 M5: 03.22.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on March 22nd, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. With UCLA’s Jordan Adams out for the year, Norman Powell was inserted into the starting lineup and the 6-foot-4-guard will need to step up against Minnesota today. Ever since Powell has come to UCLA, he’s drawn comparisons to notable former guard Russell Westbrook because of his 6-f00t-11-inch wingspan and extreme athleticism. But when Powell was replaced in the starting lineup after some strong early season play from Jordan Adams, he lost confidence and never regained his role in the first five. In his first game back as a starter against Oregon in the Pac-12 semifinals, however, he had 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting and had four rebounds. The sophomore seems more determined than ever after his second go as a starter and if he can match the production of Jordan Adams, the Bruins might just advance to the next round.
  2. Tad Boyle believes all his freshmen at Colorado are ready for their first NCAA Tournament game. Boyle says that they are not really freshmen anymore and that holds most true with starters Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson. Scott has averaged 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game this year while Johnson averages 9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Johnson has saved some of his best games for big moments as well. He had 19 points and 22 points in Colorado’s wins over Arizona and Oregon respectively. Illinois will obviously try to stop Colorado’s two best players Spencer Dinwiddie and Andre Roberson today, and that will leave the game up to the two starting freshmen.
  3. Oregon head coach Dana Altman has always been a model of consistency. When Altman was lured from Creighton to Eugene, he didn’t change his hard-working and confident style despite the increased budget and popular Nike brand. In his time at Creighton, Altman brought the Blue Jays to the NCAA Tournament seven times in 16 years and continued to improve his team. And his time at Oregon has been exactly the same. The Ducks were in the CBI in Altman’s first year, the NIT in his second, and made the NCAA Tournament this year and picked up a win over Oklahoma State yesterday. Needless to say, Altman knows what he is doing and continues to do so in a selfless, yet confident way.
  4. UCLA’s Larry Drew II doesn’t look at the championship ring he won at North Carolina as a freshman often. That’s because Drew’s career as a Tar Heel was never too successful. He failed to meet expectations as a sophomore after the national championship and was replaced by freshman Kendall Marshall in his junior year. Then, Drew decided to transfer to UCLA. Although the Bruins’ heralded freshmen have been critical this season, Drew might be the most valuable player for UCLA. After USC beat UCLA by forcing Drew to shoot, he changed his game. Since then, Drew has shot 51 percent from the field and 61 percent from three in 12 games.
  5. Andre Roberson was largely ignored as a recruit when he played high school basketball in Texas. Now as one of the nation’s top rebounders, Roberson heads back to his home state to play in the NCAA Tournament, but the scenario is quite different. No team from the state of Texas made the field of 68 this year while Roberson has led Colorado to its second consecutive tournament appearance making all those teams second guess themselves once again for passing on the local talent.
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Pac-12 M5: 03.20.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on March 20th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Arizona has become a trendy pick to get upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will play Belmont on Thursday and analysts of CBS Sports, Yahoo!, ESPN and USA Today have predicted an early exit for Arizona. Solomon Hill and Jordan Mayes don’t seem to be worried, however, noting that analysts are just doing their job and it won’t affect their preparation or performance. Arizona has the talent to compete with anyone in the field of 68, but nothing will come easy starting with Belmont. The Bruins were the Ohio Valley Conference champions and are the 18th best three-point shooting team in the nation at 38.6 percent. That doesn’t bode well for Arizona as they rank 276th in the nation in defending the three with opponents shooting 36 percent from behind the arc.
  2. Cal’s Justin Cobbs has finally found his balance. When the Bears take on UNLV Thursday, it will be a rematch of a non-conference game from earlier in the season when the Runnin’ Rebels came away with a 76-75 victory on a last second tip-in. Cobbs understands his role at this point of the season much better as a combination of a scorer and facilitator for Mike Montgomery’s offense. Earlier in the year, Cobbs was shooting poorly by averaging just 11.4 points per game and couldn’t find his rhythm. Over the past 13 games, however, Cobbs is averaging 17.1 points and 5.7 assists per game. Allen Crabbe is the focal point of the Cal offense, but if the Bears want to get past UNLV this time, they are going to need a strong game from Cobbs.
  3. Craig Robinson started out the season by saying this Oregon State team was the best he has ever had, and now he’s the first to say it was a disappointment. The Beavers finished a lowly 4-14 in the Pac-12, but if any of the Oregon State faithful want a coaching change, it’s unlikely to happen this year. Athletic director Bob De Carolis met with Robinson in Las Vegas last week and confirmed that the administration is still in full support of its head coach. Next year, the Beavers will lose Joe Burton but will return Angus Brandt who had a season-ending knee injury very early in the year. In addition to Brandt, the Beavers will have Roberto Nelson, Devon Collier, and Ahmad Starks all back, but if they can’t make strides in the 2013-14 season, Robinson could find himself on the hot seat.
  4. Arizona State and Herb Sendek plan to make the most of out of their NIT appearance. Tonight the Sun Devils will play Detroit in Tempe and won’t be taking them lightly at all. Although Arizona State is playing in the postseason, there is some disappointment from the fans that the team didn’t reach the NCAA Tournament. Sendek isn’t one of those disappointed, though, mentioning that there is no way Arizona State won’t be motivated as they will get another opportunity to play in front of their home crowd in a postseason setting.
  5. For the first time in a half-century, Colorado is in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year. The Buffaloes will be playing in Austin against Illinois on Friday afternoon and will certainly have a significant rebounding advantage. Colorado has Andre Roberson who averages 11.3 rebounds per game while Illinois’ best rebounder is Nnanna Egwu who pales in comparison at only 4.6 rebounds per game. Tad Boyle said after practice yesterday that Roberson will guard Illinois’ leading scorer Brandon Paul, which could spell trouble for the Illini as Roberson has already successfully defended Allen Crabbe and Solomon Hill this year.
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Thoughts On The Pac-12 Quarterfinals, Afternoon Session

Posted by AMurawa on March 14th, 2013

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 Conference. He filed this report from Thursday afternoon’s Pac-12 Tournament session in Las Vegas.

First and foremost, let’s congratulate the Pac-12 conference on finally having a relevant conference tournament. Even in the glory days of the Pac-12 when NBA lottery picks littered rosters up and down the west coast, the tournament at the Staples Center was never a great event. First, while Los Angeles is a fine city to live in (at least according to this Angeleno), it isn’t a great destination for out-of-towners. It’s spread out and the area right around the Staples Center is not exactly the type of place that is incredibly inviting for vacationers. Then there’s the Staples Center itself – a cavernous arena much better suited to the soulless grind of the NBA than the excitement of March college hoops, made even worse when a mere fraction of the seats were occupied. Then there was a theory – which never meant much in practice – that it was a home court advantage for the Los Angeles schools.

The New Home Of The Pac-12 Tournament Has Been A Rousing Success

The New Home Of The Pac-12 Tournament Has Been A Rousing Success

Well, all of those worries are out the door with the move to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It is certainly a destination spot, it offers plenty of affordable and centrally-located hotel options, the arena itself is big enough to welcome in fans from around the conference yet small enough to be intimate and loud, and this is clearly a neutral environment. I can’t imagine that this tournament is going to be held anywhere other than Las Vegas for a long, long time.

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RTC’s 2013 Pac-12 Tournament Preview

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 13th, 2013

The 2013 Pac-12 Championship is upon us. If you want to know who the favorites, dark-horses  and long-shots are, or are just looking for a possible team to make a run all the way from Las Vegas to the Final Four, here is your guide.

bracket

While the Pac-12 may not be the best conference in the nation, this is going to be one of the most competitive conference tournaments of Championship Week. Any of the top nine seeds are capable of winning it, and every team playing in the first round of the tournament needs at least one win to feel safe on Selection Sunday. Outside of that top five, every team will be playing for their NCAA lives, which could make the first day of the tournament surprisingly entertaining. To make a run through a conference tournament, especially when you need to win four games in four days, you need three or more really solid players. UCLA has Shabazz Muhammad, Jordan Adams, Travis Wear, and Kyle Anderson; Oregon has E.J. Singler, Carlos Emory, and Damyean Dotson; and Colorado has Spencer Dinwiddie, Askia Booker, Andre Roberson, and Josh Scott. Those groups of players can lead their teams through the tournament, but the rest of the field behind them has only one or two solid players they can count on.

Two teams that aren’t currently locked into the field of 68 have a possibility of getting at-large bids through their play this week. Colorado may be in regardless, but they can lock up an at-large this afternoon with a win against Oregon State. Arizona State is about the seventh or eighth team out of the tournament at this point, so anything short of three wins in Vegas will keep the Sun Devils in the NIT. They also need help from the contenders in front of them, meaning ASU fans should be rooting for quick exits by the likes of Iowa, Southern Miss, and Mississippi.

Can Jahii Carson Lead Arizona State To The NCAA Tournament (credit: Arizona State)?

Can Jahii Carson Lead Arizona State To The NCAA Tournament (credit: Arizona State)?

Favorite: UCLA. Carrying the momentum off a regular season conference title, the Bruins come in as slight favorites for the tournament. They’ll likely face Arizona in the semifinals, a team they have more or less dominated in their two previous meetings. Any one of the top four seeds could win this thing (even the top five), but UCLA has the star power to carry them all the way through.

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Pac-12 Burning Questions: Pac-12 Tournament Dark Horse?

Posted by AMurawa on March 13th, 2013

The beginning of a new era in Pac-12 basketball begins today, as the first conference tournament in Las Vegas tips off. With the top four teams receiving a bye, we’ve got teams #5 through #12 in action, so we asked our correspondents:

“Which Pac-12 team playing in the opening round has the best chance of springing the upset and winning the conference’s automatic bid?”

 

Adam Butler: I’ve struggled to figure out exactly what’s happened in Palo Alto this year. They have a very interesting group and a group we thought would play better than to the tune of .500 in conference play. They’ve looked equally good as they have bad at different times throughout the year. And I can’t tell if it’s fortunate or unfortunate for me — and I’ll argue unfortunate with regards to my prognosticating skills — that the two trips I’ve taken to see Stanford play this year were when they hosted Oregon (76-52, W) and visited Cal (83-70, W). Through stretches of these games, if not their entirety, the Cardinal looked unstoppable. For such, as a team capable of playing with any team in the conference, I like the #8 seeded Fighting Dawkins as the top Wednesday playing team to make a run at this thing.

The Pressure Is On For Johnny Dawkins And Company, But Can His Cardinal Spring a Big Upset? (credit: Danny Moloshok)

The Pressure Is On For Johnny Dawkins And Company, But Can His Cardinal Spring a Big Upset? (Danny Moloshok)

Connor Pelton: I actually like #6 Washington to advance furthest and have the best chance of winning the championship out of the eight first round teams. The Huskies have wins over the #2 and #5 seeds in the tournament and have shown they can compete against the other top teams in the field. What you need to win four games in four days are good shooters and a good bench. Scott Suggs and Abdul Gaddy have been shooting the lights out of the gym as of late, and while they may not put up huge numbers, Andrew Andrews and Jernard Jarreau can control the game and score from anywhere on the floor if they are called on to spell the starters. Most importantly, the Dawgs have one of the easiest paths to the title game. Washington State has been playing good ball as of late, but there’s no reason UW can’t pull out a win against the rival Cougars. LoRo and company hung with Oregon in their first two meetings, and I think they pull the upset in their third attempt against a reeling Duck squad. A date with California is likely for the semifinals, and if Washington’s only prior meeting with the Golden Bears is any indication, the Dawgs could be on their way to the title game. And once you get there, no matter who the opponent, anything is possible.

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The RTC Pac-12 All-Conference Teams

Posted by AMurawa on March 11th, 2013

Earlier today we released our picks for the conference awards, handing out, among others, Player of the Year to Allen Crabbe and Freshman of the Year to Jahii Carson. Not surprisingly, those two players lead our picks for the All-Conference team as the only two players to wind up on the first teams of all four of our voters’ ballots. While the Pac-12 goes a little insane this time of year and somehow decides to put together a 10-man All-Conference First Team, we’re going to follow, you know, the rules of basketball and field a five-man team (with a second team for good measure).

First Team All-Conference

  • Jahii Carson, Freshman, Arizona State (17.7 PPG, 5.0 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.2 SPG) – Our Freshman of the Year, Carson led a resurgence for the Sun Devils, helping his team double its win total from last season and likely earning it a spot in some postseason tournament somewhere. He played 91% of his team’s minutes, and was a catalyst repeatedly for all of his team’s offense.
  • Allen Crabbe, Junior, California (18.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG) – Our Pac-12 Player of the Year, Crabbe paired up with backcourt partner Justin Cobbs to turn around the season for a once-floundering Golden Bears team helping reel off 11 wins in the team’s final 13 games to put them firmly in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie, Sophomore, Colorado (15.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.3 SPG) – A skillful leader for Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes, Dinwiddie earned a spot on the first team on two of our four ballots. Nearly equally adept at scoring from behind the arc or in the lane as he is at creating for teammates or getting to the line, Dinwiddie blossomed in his sophomore campaign.
Spencer Dinwiddie Took Over As The Buffaloes' Leader In His Sophomore Campaign (David Zalubowski, AP Photo)

Spencer Dinwiddie Took Over As The Buffaloes’ Leader In His Sophomore Campaign (David Zalubowski, AP Photo)

  • Shabazz Muhammad, Freshman, UCLA (18.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG) – The most-talked-about freshman in the nation, Muhammad came to Westwood with a reputation as a great scorer and he did not disappoint. The nation’s leading scorer among freshmen, Muhammad’s offensive punch was a key factor in UCLA’s run to the conference title. Muhammad was picked as a first team member by three of our four voters.
  • Dwight Powell, Junior, Stanford (15.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.1 BPG) – A 6’10” jumping jack who averaged less than 20 minutes per game last season, Powell exploded into the upper echelon of Pac-12 players this season, establishing himself as a versatile threat with a promising future on his way to winning RTC’s Most Improved Pac-12 Player award.

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