Pac-12 M5: 12.30.13 Edition

Posted by Andrew Murawa on December 30th, 2013


  1. When the AP poll is released later today, there is at least a chance that Oregon and its undefeated record could sneak into the top 10, given that a couple of teams ahead of the Ducks – namely, Louisville and Villanova – both suffered losses this weekend. But despite the fact that Oregon is pretty highly regarded, some fans are asking, “Where’s the love?” One such example is provided by Don Gilman of who points to some of Oregon’s flashy offensive stats and wonders why the team isn’t higher in the national polls. In the interest of full disclosure, I put Oregon at #8 on my weekly RTC ballot, but there are some good reasons why a 12-0 Oregon squad may still have some doubters. First, despite all those fantastic offensive numbers, its defense has just been ordinary (79th in the nation in defensive efficiency). And, well, the Ducks really haven’t beaten anybody great yet. They’ve got good wins, yes, over teams like Georgetown, BYU, Illinois, and on the road at Ole Miss. But one thing all of those teams have in common is they all should be on the outside looking in of the AP rankings this week for a reason.
  2. Stanford wrapped up its non-conference slate on Sunday with a win over Cal Poly, so now is as appropriate of a time as ever to ask: Have the Cardinal done enough to put themselves on the NCAA Tournament radar? Anthony Dimuro  of Golden Gate Sports says the answer is yes, based on an 8-3 record, a good win over Connecticut, and having won all the games they were supposed to (I might quibble with that one by bringing up the BYU game). But the fact is that Stanford is going to have to spend the rest of the season rooting heavily for UConn to earn some big wins in the American Athletic Conference to make that scalp look more impressive and help that uninspiring RPI number of 64. Needless to say, there is a lot of basketball left to be played, but still, on the basis of a solid enough non-conference schedule, they’ve at least given themselves a chance.
  3. Arizona State, like Stanford, will have plenty of work left to do in order to build up a convincing case for NCAA Tournament inclusion this season. But despite some missed opportunities in the non-conference schedule, there is plenty of positivity around the Sun Devils’ program. Jahii Carson has lived up to his high standards, Jermaine Marshall has shifted his scoring ability from State College to Tempe without a hitch, and Jordan Bachynski continues to swat away any errant basketball that comes near his body. All of those things were more or less expected. What could make the Devils a tough out going forward would be the types of things that happened Saturday afternoon against UC Irvine, such as Jonathan Gilling providing a varied offensive attack and senior forward Shaquielle McKissic becoming an explosive and athletic scoring threat.
  4. Washington State got a win Saturday night over Mississippi Valley State, but it did so without leading scorer DaVonte Lacy, who missed the game while having his appendix removed. He’s the second Pac-12 player to deal with appendicitis this year, as UCLA’s Travis Wear was the other. Judging by Wear’s experience with the situation, expect Lacy to miss roughly three to four weeks.
  5. Lastly, given Utah’s less-than-stellar non-conference schedule, people across the country may not yet have heard the name Delon Wright. But the 6’5” point guard has been catching a few eyes and drawing some rave reviews. The brother of Dorrell Wright, currently of the Portland Trail Blazers, the young Wright earned high praise from NBA players in a Los Angeles area summer league but is now set to turn his versatile game loose on the Pac-12. He had to take the long road to big-time college basketball, but now that he is here, he intends to make the most of the opportunity.
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Pac-12 Burning Questions: So… About Those Preseason Predictions?

Posted by AMurawa on December 31st, 2012

With non-conference play all but wrapped up, we start to turn our attention to conference play this week. But, before we do we want to take a look back and see what we talked about prior to the season.

“We made a lot of predictions and bold statements prior to the season. Which prognostication did you nail and which did you completely whiff on?”

Adam Butler: I wish I’d had the stones to say things like “Jordan Adams will be UCLA’s best player” or “Josh Smith will leave the Bruins” or “USC will utterly flop.” No, on each of those insights I was sightless. I was the cool kid picking USC to overachieve and who was gobbling up Shabazz hyperbole like flavored vodka at a sorority house. I went out on the limb to say Arizona and Colorado would be good. I have said Spencer Dinwiddie would be All-Conference and, to date, he’s held up his side of that bargain, and I still love his game when he shows up (although, zero points vs. Fresno?). The one thing I’ve nailed but I don’t think it’s been terribly bold has been that Mark Lyons, no matter what he did numbers-wise, was going to have an overwhelming effect on this Wildcats team. I think it’s safe to say that he’s been a lightning rod of attention and criticism and handled it all in stride, strides that have taken him straight to winning buckets against Florida and SDSU. Lyons brings a dynamic to Tucson that was sorely needed and he has not let them down. As for whiffs? I figured Washington would be better and that Oregon would be worse. I thought Jio Fontan would hover around conference POY talk and that Dewayne Dedmon would be a big surprise: fails. There’s still time to play out but it’s hard to say that any of those thoughts will right themselves in my predictive favor. And in that remaining time, I’m excited to see just what UCLA will do and how Arizona’s freshmen bigs will develop within the routine of Pac-12 play. Moving forward, a few additional thoughts: Can Herb’s team keep up their pace? No. Is Solomon Hill going to win the conference POY award? No (but he may be the MVP). Can Colorado be the second best team in the Pac? Yes. Will Stanford be better then their 8-4 record? Yes. Alas, predictions are meaningless but oh-so-fun.

Jio Fontan In The Player Of The Year Race? Not So Much. (AP Photo)

Jio Fontan In The Player Of The Year Race? Not So Much. (AP Photo)

Connor Pelton: Looking back on it, I made some interesting (to say the least) picks back in October. But I did nail a few of those, starting with the pick of Arsalan Kazemi as an All-Pac-12 performer. I was the only one to include the Rice transfer on my 15-player ballot, and he has answered by averaging 9.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG, and 3.1 SPG so far. In fact, if he had not had been so tentative shooting the ball at the beginning of the season, it is not a stretch to say he would not only be leading the team in rebounds but points as well. Another pick I am liking was that of Jonathan Gilling as an all-conference three-point shooter. Kevin and I were the only ones to include the sophomore on our lists, and he has proved us right by knocking down 30 triples, second highest in the conference. But the pick I am most proud of is selecting USC at 10th in the conference, while everyone else here had the Trojans sixth or seventh. The thing that made me so skeptical about USC at the beginning of the season was the question, “Where do the points come from behind Jio Fontan?” Some said senior forward Aaron Fuller, who’s averaging a stellar 2.9 PPG. Case closed.

Now, onto the whiffs. While Chasson Randle hasn’t had a great season, there is no question he should be second team All-Pac-12 right now. I did not even include him on my list of 15, opting instead for guys like Ricky Kreklow and Kaleb Tarczewski. Whoops. It is easy to look bad when projecting an all-newcomer team, and boy have I done that. I did not include Mark Lyons on my team, or Jahii Carson, or Josh Scott. Those guys are averaging 13.4, 17.9, and 12.5 PPG, respectively. As we move into conference play, the picks that are on the fence of good and bad will begin to clear up. Are the Buffaloes an NCAA Tournament team? I said yes in October, and I still think they are now. Can Washington rebound from an awful start and make the NIT? No. Can California win a big game? It has to happen eventually, right?

Time will answer everything, and before we know it, we will be filling out brackets and talking about surprises and snubs on Selection Sunday.

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