For college basketball fans, Thanksgiving has quietly become a smorgasbord of fun. It wasn’t all that long ago where Thanksgiving week maybe meant the Preseason NIT, the Maui Invitation, the Great Alaska Shootout and a couple of other one-off games interspersed throughout the schedule. Nowadays, from Monday to Sunday, the whole week is jampacked with wall-to-wall hoops, from the Bahamas to Alaska and plenty of fun places in between. As we gorge ourselves on all the meaty matchups around the land, we here at the Pac-12 microsite take some time to list just what each program around the conference should be most thankful for this holiday weekend.
Arizona – When Lute Olson’s storied tenure in the desert came to a stilted and surprising end, the Arizona basketball program stumbled along for a couple of seasons in search of its new direction. But now, in the fourth season of the Sean Miller era, it is clear that UA has their next great coach to be thankful for. Even in the midst of missing out on the NCAA Tournament twice in three seasons, he’s kept the fan base engaged, he’s killed it on the recruiting trail and he looks like he’s got the Wildcats back to where they expect to be: contending for Pac-12 titles and deep March runs on a regular basis.
Arizona State – Okay, the Sun Devils probably aren’t very good right now. But with Jahii Carson running the point for the team and with head coach Herb Sendek turning him loose, this is a team that is going to be fun to watch all year long. Though not big in stature, Carson’s elite speed and athleticism make him huge for the ASU program. Last year while Carson looked on, the team struggled without a true point guard on the roster. But now it’s his team and he’s more than capable of leading it. His presence makes the rest of the guys around him better and when everything else breaks down, he’s more than capable of getting his own, something ASU fans and his embattled head coach will be thankful for throughout the year.