Eight Predictions For The Pac-12 On Selection Sunday

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on March 16th, 2014

  • Arizona will get a #1 seed in the West region. This one’s almost too easy. Without a team west of Wichita vying for a seed above the four line, the Wildcats have no competition for this spot. They have been locked into a one seed ever since their dominating performance at Colorado on February 22, and losses to Oregon and UCLA in the final two weeks of the season doesn’t change that. Expect Sean Miller‘s team to also be sent to San Diego for its opening games in the tournament.
  • UCLA is underseeded, and its opponents will pay for it. Without a signature non-conference win and losses like the 18-point one suffered at Washington State dotting its schedule, I think the committee slots UCLA as a #6 seed, instead of the four or five the Bruins probably deserve. This will hurt their second and third round opponents more than anything, as we’ve seen in recent years.

    UCLA Guard Jordan Adams Is Averaging 17.2 PPG And Has Come Up Clutch In Big Games (Stephen Dunn)

    UCLA Guard Jordan Adams Is Averaging 17.2 PPG And Has Come Up Clutch In Big Games (Stephen Dunn)

  • Oregon avoids the 8/9 game, is gifted a #7 seed. The committee loves rewarding teams that finish the season strong, and Oregon closed the year on an 8-1 tear. I think the Ducks avoid the 8/9 game (and therefore a matchup with a top seed in their second game), and will play a #10 seed in their opener.
  • Colorado and Stanford do play the 8/9 game. Both the Buffaloes and Cardinal had a chance to pull an Oregon and avoid the eight or nine line, but some spectacular flameouts in Las Vegas make that impossible. Both will play in an 8/9 game. Read the rest of this entry »
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Pac-12 Senior Days: Oregon and Transfer U

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on March 11th, 2014

Oregon locked up a bid to the NCAA Tournament on Saturday in its upset win over Arizona, and six Seniors played their final game at Matthew Knight Arena in the process. We break them down below:

It's Been An Up And Down Season For Senior Mike Moser, But The Forward Has Averaged 17.7 PPG Over His Last Seven Games To Propel The Ducks Onto The Right Side Of The Bubble. (credit: Michael Shaw)

It’s Been An Up And Down Season For Senior Mike Moser, But The Forward Has Averaged 17.7 PPG Over His Last Seven Games To Propel The Ducks Onto The Right Side Of The Bubble. (Michael Shaw/AP)

Hopes were high when Mike Moser announced his intentions to transfer from UNLV to Oregon last summer, and expectations immediately rose for the Ducks. There were talks before of a top-four finish to follow up their Sweet Sixteen appearance, but with the addition of Moser, competing with Arizona for a conference championship seemed achievable. And for the first two months of the season, things were great. The forward dropped 15 points in the first game of the season against Georgetown, and added another 24 in a huge road win in overtime at Mississippi. The Ducks were riding high, but the losses began to accumulate rapidly as Moser’s production waned. He hit a nasty shooting slump and lost all confidence while Oregon dropped six of seven games in the month of January, but as he slowly began to get his stroke back, Dana Altman‘s team finally started to pull out the close games that they had been losing before. They are now a lock for the NCAA Tournament, and it’s no coincidence that Moser has averaged 16.8 PPG since February 8, a stretch where his team has gone 7-1.

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Pac-12 Senior Days: Oregon State Group of Six

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on March 8th, 2014

On a day when Oregon State looks to secure a bid to the NIT, six Beavers will play their final game at Gill Coliseum. We break them down below.

Senior Roberto Nelson Leads The League In Points Despite Being Tightly Defended All Season (credit: Michael Shaw)

Senior Roberto Nelson Leads The League In Points Despite Being Tightly Defended All Season (credit: Michael Shaw)

Roberto Nelson leads the conference in scoring in his final season in Corvallis, and he has been the difference-maker Oregon State needed to produce one of its best seasons in a decade. Coming out of Santa Barbara, he was the top signee of head coach Craig Robinson’s first recruiting class, one that also included guys like Jared Cunningham, Angus Brandt and Joe Burton. The story of his recruitment is an interesting one in itself, and was actually told in the book “Play Their Hearts Out” by George Dohrmann. The shooting guard’s father received letters while in prison from head coaches attempting to get him to persuade Nelson to sign with their school, and the player himself received 2,161 pieces of mail from his suitors. He decided Robinson’s school was right for him, someone who, ironically enough, didn’t send him as much as a post card. After having to sit out his first season with the team due to NCAA eligibility issues, he averaged 7.5 PPG as a freshman role player. His biggest jump came last season when he became one of the most feared shooters in the Pac-12 and went from 9.3 PPG as a sophomore to a 17.8 PPG clip. Nelson is most known for his unbelievably deep range and perpetual green light from the coaching staff, but he is most effective on the dribble-drive, capable of twisting and turning through the lane without picking up his pivot foot, eventually finding his way to the hoop. Outside of basketball, he was a huge part of a student service trip to Macedonia a few years ago, and brought us this excellent clip from his time there. If Nelson can step up on the defensive end of the floor, he has a good shot of making an NBA roster as a free agent.

Favorite Moment: Hitting back-to-back three pointers without a shoe against Stanford.

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Otskey’s Observations: Episode XV, Player and Coach of the Year Edition

Posted by Brian Otskey (@botskey) on March 6th, 2014

Each week throughout the season, RTC columnist Brian Otskey (@botskey) will run down his observations from the previous week of college basketball.

As the college basketball regular season wraps up, I thought this would be a good time to run down my Coaches of the Year and Players of the Year in each of the major conferences. Here goes…

ACC

  • POY: T.J. Warren, NC State (24.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.8 SPG). Warren has been a tremendous bright spot on an otherwise mediocre Wolfpack squad. Since a rough four-point game against Virginia on January 11, Warren has scored at least 20 points in every game he has played (he missed one game due to injury). At 6’8” and an athletic 215 pounds, Warren is a match-up problem for nearly every opponent. He has had eight 30+ point games (only one fewer than Doug McDermott), including Monday’s 41-point explosion in a road win at Pittsburgh. Some may disagree because NC State is not at the top of the ACC, but a season like this where Warren brought it night after night deserves special recognition.
Tony Bennett has done a tremendous job at Virginia. (virginiasports.com)

Tony Bennett has done a tremendous job at Virginia. (virginiasports.com)

  • COY: Tony Bennett, Virginia (25-5, 16-1 ACC). Bennett’s teams have always been terrific defensively and this one is no exception. Ranked third nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, Virginia has allowed only four ACC opponents to score 60 or more points this season. Even in a league with a tempo as slow as this year’s ACC, that is a remarkable statistic. Virginia was a trendy surprise pick but I am not sure anyone thought it would turn out to be this good. The Cavaliers were picked fourth in the preseason ACC poll but currently hold a three-game lead over Syracuse and North Carolina with just one game to play.

American

  • POY: Russ Smith, Louisville (18.0 PPG, 4.5 APG, 2.0 SPG). This was a really close call between Smith and Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick but I am giving Smith the slightest of edges. Both mean so much to their respective teams but Smith’s decision to return to Louisville for his senior year has proven to be a wise one. Smith is enjoying the best shooting season of his career (46.8 percent) and has matured greatly. He is playing smarter and has led this Louisville team to a 25-5 overall record. The Cardinals again have the look of a Final Four contender and Smith is the primary reason why.

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Pac-12 Senior Days: Go Ahead and Hate Jordan Bachynski

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) on March 5th, 2014

If you’re a college basketball player at a major program, one of the greatest compliments that can be paid to you is to be “hated.” We’re talking sports-hate here, not the real derogatory, run-down, kind of hate, but hate inspired by a player’s ability to act as a thorn in the side of opposing teams. It took some time for Arizona State’s Jordan Bachynski to come by that kind of desirable hate, but he certainly has, and he’s come by it honestly. That’s the kind of thing that happens when you play four seasons on your way to becoming the Pac-12’s all-time leading shot-blocker. Just flipping through Twitter on Tuesday night, you read things like “Flopynski” and comparisons to Vlade Divac or soccer players taking dives. Let me remind you, this is a guy with 309 blocked shots in his career, not exactly the kind of stat that indicates a guy that spends a ton of time flopping around the basketball court.

Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State

Jordan Bachynski Is Well-Hated Outside Of Tempe. And He Should Be Proud Of That (US Presswire)

But really, the sheer fact that Bachynski has generated this type of feeling from opponents and opposing fans is proof of the accomplishments the 7’2” Albertan has under his belt. He arrived in Tempe at the age of 21, having completed his LDS mission between the end of high school and the start of his college career, meaning he went almost three years (factor in an ankle injury his senior year in high school that limited his ability to play at Findlay Prep) without playing competitive basketball prior to first donning a Sun Devil uniform. As a result, the long and lanky center needed time to build strength and conditioning, work on coordination and skill, and just get used to the new level of competition. It took him the better part of two years, but down the stretch of his sophomore season, he began to show glimpses of the player he would become. In the last 13 games of 2011-12, he averaged better than 10 points per game, knocked in better than 70 percent of his free throws (quite an accomplishment for a sub-50% guy to that point) and began to show his dominance as a rim protector, rejecting an average of two shots per game over that stretch.

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Pac-12 Senior Days: The Wear Twins at UCLA

Posted by AMurawa on March 3rd, 2014

I’ve been thinking about how to write a piece on the college careers of the Wear twins for several days now, and, well, it just isn’t coming to me, so I’ll just start writing and see what happens. You see, it’s hard. This is supposed to be a piece honoring their college careers, looking back fondly on what they’ve accomplished, but it is no secret that there are many – on both coasts – who view this pair of former McDonald’s All-Americans as disappointments in college. So this is an exercise in balancing honesty about their faults with optimism about their accomplishments.

Even After Three Years Of Watching The Wears At UCLA, It Is Hard To Figure Out What To Make Of Them

Even After Three Years Of Watching The Wears At UCLA, It Is Hard To Figure Out What To Make Of Them. (AP)

Because, really, when you get right down to it, measured up against even most high-major recruits, the Wear twins have had strong careers. (Now is as good of a time as any to apologize to David and Travis for probably never having written their first names in the past three years, but rather just referring to them as The Twins. They’ve been judged not as individuals, but as a singular entity, and that probably won’t change much here either.) Combined, they’ve started 144 of the 242 games in which they’ve played. They’ve each put up offensive ratings over 100.0 for the final three years of their career. And they’ve never caused trouble and generally always done whatever it is their coaches asked them to do. And yet, for some reason, from sea to shining sea, from blue-blood program North Carolina to blue-blood program UCLA, fans remain disappointed in the Wears’ production.

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Pac-12 M5: 03.03.14 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on March 3rd, 2014

pac12_morning5

  1. Welcome to March. Jerry Palm’s latest NCAA Tournament projections were released yesterday and Arizona has all but solidified that #1 seed in the West region after taking care of California and Stanford. UCLA follows as a #7 seed, while Arizona State and Stanford are also safely in the field on the eight and nine lines, respectively. We then hit the bubble, where we find Oregon making its way back into the field as a #10 seed after picking up a pair of big wins in Los Angeles. Colorado and California follow as #11 seeds, with the Golden Bears being sent to Dayton to play in the “First Four”, a punishment for dropping three of its last four, with the losses coming by an average of 22 points. According to ESPN‘s Joe Lunardi, Utah is also on the bubble, sitting as the 11th team out of the field at the moment.
  2. Arizona locked up an unshared regular season conference title yesterday (and the all-important NIT automatic bid, if they choose to use it) with a 79-66 win against Stanford at the McKale Center. The Wildcats led by as many as 22 with six minutes remaining and ended up cruising to the championship. Josh Huestis actually led all scorers with 22 points, while freshman forward Aaron Gordon scored 19 to pace the Wildcats.
  3. Head coach Sean Miller decided to give guard Jordin Mayes the start on Senior Night in Tucson, and while Mayes was held scoreless, he did play a season high 15 minutes. Mayes has been with the Wildcats for four seasons, a dwindling feat nowadays in this sport. After starting as a sophomore he has seen his minutes decline and almost completely disappear. Mayes has suffered through multiple stress fracture injuries but has stuck it out, staying committed to his team and coach. Kevin Zimmerman shares a cool story about a young Mayes in this piece and the impact that he has had while at Arizona. Here’s hoping his perseverance is rewarded with a trip to Arlington for the Final Four later this month.
  4. If you’re looking for some hardcore statistical analysis, this post is for you. Our friend Adam Butler over at Pachoops breaks down the facilitating ability of Wildcat junior T.J. McConnell, the program’s first, true pass-first point guard in five years. So far this season he has accounted for the second highest percentage of rim scores in the conference behind Delon Wright, a huge boost for a team who’s one fault can be going significant periods of time without scoring.
  5. UCLA is ratcheting up its defense just in time for the stretch run of the season, and head coach Steve Alford is encouraged by the recent play. The Bruins forced Oregon to shoot at a 38.1 % clip from the field on Thursday, a performance that Alford declared “arguably one of the best of the year.” The Ducks went most of the night without gaining any easy buckets, and the Bruins held them to just two points in the first overtime period. Oregon is one of the best transition teams in the nation and UCLA only allowed four fastbreak points, perhaps the stat that makes Alford most proud. Continued pressure on the defensive end of the floor will be crucial if it looks to avoid the dreaded eight or nine seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
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Best YouTube Moments in Stanford Basketball: The Nominees

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on February 24th, 2014

Last month we introduced our new project, which is centered around determining the top YouTube moment in Pac-12 basketball history. We continue the nomination portion with Stanford.

[ed note: These are just the top moments we could find on YouTube, which has a vast number and array of videos, but we won't be able to cover the entire 99 years of the conference.]

 

We open with a shot that I think is the favorite for this entire tournament. Down 77-74 with 27 seconds remaining against #12 Arizona, Josh Childress buried a corner three off a Matt Lotich steal to pull the second-ranked and undefeated Cardinal even. What happened next will go down in Pac-12 lore, as guard Nick Robinson, known for his defense, stole the ball while Arizona tried to hold the ball for the final shot. Robinson took two dribbles and put up a 35-foot runner as time expired, which hit nothing but twine. The shot set off one of the greatest court rushes in the history of the game, as the blacked-out “6th Man” dog-piled the Stanford players in the corner of the floor. If you look closely, you can even see an on-top-of-the-world Tiger Woods celebrating his team’s 20th straight win in the video below.


Another clip, another buzzer-beater. Four weeks after the above thriller against Arizona, Stanford was trailing Washington State by one in Pullman with 17 seconds remaining. The Cardinal forced a five-second count on the Cougars, giving the still-unbeaten team the ball back with a chance for the win. With 10 seconds left, Stanford lost control of the ball but Nick Robinson came away with it after a mad scramble. He shoveled the ball over to Matt Lotich, who hoisted a deep three at the buzzer. It dropped, of course, to give the Cardinal their 26th consecutive win and stunning the home crowd. Read the rest of this entry »

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Marching to Vegas: And Down the Stretch They Come…

Posted by Adam Butler (@pachoops) on February 21st, 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.

I think we’re on the home stretch. I don’t really know when it begins, it’s pretty loosely defined. It’s a term derived from horse racing when the horses enter the final straightaway en route to the finish line. When did the Pac-12 make it’s final turn into the home stretch? I’m not sure. It’s certainly up for debate. But what’s certain in this situation is that Vegas is just three weeks away. We play an 18-game schedule and less than a third remains. And with so few games remaining (the home stretch?), I feel pretty strongly that this is shaping into a two-team race. There are a few teams that have a fighter’s chance (boxing) at making a play for the top spot, but right now it’s just UCLA and Arizona, a two-horse race. So let’s look at them! Or, more specifically, their respective current state of affairs and their forthcoming competition on the schedule.

Where Once 12 Came Out Of The Gate, There Are Now Two Horses With A Chance In the Pac-12 (Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles Times)

Where Once 12 Came Out Of The Gate, There Are Now Two Horses With A Chance In the Pac-12. (Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles Times)

We’ll begin in Westwood where Steve Alford has his team peaking at the right time. Which is an interesting fact because Alford has never coached a team like this before. He’s only once had a team rank in the top-100 in adjusted tempo (his 2004 Iowa team ranked 66th at 70.3) and is at the helm of a squad taking more than 27 percent of their offense in transition. Hoop-math only goes back to 2011-12 but seeing as how the two New Mexico teams accounted for never grabbed more than 20 percent of their offense in transition, I’m comfortable assuming Alford has rarely, if ever, had a team run this much. And they do it well. They’re running up the list of best offensive teams in the country and the Alford mark is beginning to make an imprint, too. He’s lauded most regularly as a defensive guy and the Bruins hovered above average for parts of the season. Read the rest of this entry »

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#rushthetrip Day 15: Ute Revival Put On Hold in Salt Lake City

Posted by Bennet Hayes on February 21st, 2014

RTC columnist Bennet Hayes (@hoopstraveler) is looking for the spirit of college basketball as he works his way on a two-week tour of various venues around the West. For more about his trip, including his itinerary and previous stops on his journey, check out the complete series here.

Wednesday brought me back into Utah (which is quickly becoming the official home state of #rushthetrip!) for a rendezvous between the Utes and #4 Arizona. As of Tuesday, few bracketologists (including our own Daniel Evans) had Utah in the field — or even in that first crop of teams missing out — but finding a way to nip the Cats would surely thrust Larry Krystkowiak’s group into the bubble discussion. And for the once-spoiled turned long-suffering Utes’ fans (just one NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005 after making 10 of 11 trips from 1995-2005), the opportunity at hand had to make this one of the biggest college basketball games Salt Lake City has seen in the last decade.

The Young Utes Have Yet To Fully Arrive, But The Huntsman Center Offered One Of The Best Atmospheres This Trip Has Seen

The Young Utes Have Yet To Fully Arrive, But The Huntsman Center Offered One Of The Best Atmospheres This Trip Has Seen

The Huntsman Center atmosphere supported that thesis. Fans filled the sizable gym (a listed attendance of 14,266 fell a few seats short of capacity), and despite a first half that featured little in the way of positive developments for the Utes, stayed involved throughout. The student section was amazing, nearly stretching all the way from floor to rafters, a sea of red fully prepped to swallow up the Wildcats. Their consistent engagement would pay off in the latter portions of the second half, as the Utes scrapped their way back into a game that they had trailed by 12 with 13 minutes to play. I was more than happy to be forced to spend most of the final 10 minutes (plus overtime) standing behind the Huntsman Center masses. Once that Ute surge began in earnest, there was nary a seated fanny in the building; I can’t recall too many games where I’ve seen seats used less frequently. Clearly, Utah fans wanted this game.

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Pac-12 M5: 02.19.14 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on February 19th, 2014

pac12_morning5

  1. So, late on Monday night I am navigating my way through the college basketball hub on ESPN.com, and I find this piece with different writers making predictions for the rest of the season that will either make them look smart or stupid. About a quarter of the way down the page is the headline “Take notice of the champs… and Oregon State“. John Gasaway’s “prediction that will make him look stupid” is centered around the Beavers upsetting UCLA in the Pac-12 Tournament championship, giving the program its first trip to the Big Dance since 1990. Stupid or not, a prediction is a prediction, and Oregon State fans will take it. Also included in this predictions post is C.L. Brown’s prognostication that Arizona will not receive a one seed for that NCAA Tournament. With four of its final six on the road and its performance without Brandon Ashley not exactly inspiring, this isn’t a bad pick.
  2. Joe Lunardi released his latest edition of Bracketology on Monday, and the Wildcats remain as a #1 seed in his projections. UCLA follows as a #5 seed, and then four Pac-12 teams (Stanford, Arizona State, California, and Colorado) are represented on the #9 and #10 lines. John Templon released his NIT projections as well earlier this week, and Oregon, Washington, Oregon State, and Utah appear in that field.
  3. Shortly after we talked to you on Monday morning, both the AP and Coaches polls were released and saw Arizona drop two spots to #4 after falling at Arizona State last Friday. The only other team to appear inside the Top 25 were the Bruins after their sweep of Colorado and Utah, but both Arizona State and Cal appear in the “Also Receiving Votes” section. Click here to check out Rush the Court‘s weekly rankings, where the Cats once again appear at fourth, the Bruins take 22nd, and Arizona State comes in at #29.
  4. Stanford guard Aaron Bright will be transferring to St. Mary’s and be eligible to play immediately next season in Moraga. The senior appeared in seven games this season for the Cardinal before dislocating his right shoulder during a late November practice. In order to be able to play immediately, Bright has to find a graduate degree program that is offered by St. Mary’s and not by Stanford. According to this tweet, the Gaels have at least three of those; Kinesiology, an MA in Leadership, and an MFA in Creative Writing. Oh, and Australian Basketball Recruiting.
  5. I must warn you, the next link is a bit disturbing. Coaches at both Arizona and Arizona State are proposing the ridiculous notion that Pac-12 court rushes be prevented, possibly by as soon as next season. Sean Miller thinks the situation is a threat to the visiting team’s safety and inconveniences them when trying to get back to the locker room after the game is over. My thoughts? Who cares if you have to wait by the bench for a few extra minutes after the buzzer sounds? Have security in place like the ACC does to surround the staff and players, and let the kids have their fun on the floor.
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Pac-12 Roundup: Week 14

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) and Drew Murawa (@AMurawa) on February 18th, 2014

Out of the country? Living under a rock? Here’s what you missed in the 14th week of Pac-12 basketball. 

Power Rankings (as voted upon by Connor Pelton and Andrew Murawa)

T1. Arizona State (19-6, 4 Points). Comment: “Is Arizona State even an accredited university? Or is it like DeVry?” – Jordan Majewski (@jorcubsdan)

T1. UCLA (20-5, 4 Points). Comment: “UCLA student section chanting “one more year” to Zach LaVine. I’m guessing NBA scouts want in on that chant too.” - Drew Murawa (@AMurawa)

T1. Arizona (23-2, 4 Points). Comment: “He touched the rim. RT @jskarp Sean Miller should be a delight after this game.” – Kevin Danna (@Kevo408)

Senior Guard Jermaine Marshall Celebrates After Knocking Off #2 Arizona On Friday (credit: Matt York)

Senior Guard Jermaine Marshall Celebrates After Knocking Off #2 Arizona On Friday (credit: Matt York)

4. Colorado (19-7, 5 Points). Comment: “Someone is SKIing in Los Angeles right now.” – Adam Butler (@pachoopsab)

5. California (17-8, 8 Points). Comment: “California escapes for an 80-76 overtime win in Pullman and avoids losing to the two worst teams in the conference.” - Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28)

T6. Oregon (16-8, 14 Points). Comment: “You want to know how well Oregon is playing? I don’t even have anything bad to say about Waverly Austin.” – Matt Daddy (@mattdaddysblog)

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