Pac-12 M5: 12.27.12 Edition
Posted by AMurawa on December 27th, 2012
- Following their thrilling Christmas night win over San Diego State, Arizona is the talk of the college basketball world in this downtime before hoops picks back up again. Coming on the heels of their similarly enjoyable win over Florida, the win over the Aztecs puts the Wildcats in the driver’s seat for the meaningless title of “Best in the West” and NBC Sports’ Daniel Martin lays out the four best contenders. Arizona leads the pack, but Gonzaga and UNLV have their names in the mix as well, while SDSU, despite the razor-thin loss, needs to be considered among the contenders too. Notably (and understandably) missing are any other Pac-12 teams. The sad thing is that this is an improvement over last season where no Pac-12 team deserved to be in such a conversation at this point in the season.
- Elsewhere on the Arizona front, CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman wrote a great piece about how Sean Miller has taken that program from a team with questionable talent and turned it into a program that is on the move again. While the Derrick Williams-led run to the Elite Eight two seasons back was impressive, it was also just a fortunate blip on the radar for the ‘Cats. But, with this year’s talented recruiting class, future stars in the queue, and the program back near the level of national importance it regularly enjoyed under Lute Olson, odds are that Arizona is again going to be a regular fixture near the top of the national rankings for years to come.
- The Wildcats aren’t the only team in the Grand Canyon State that has its fans excited for the future. Arizona State, after a couple years lost in the basketball wilderness, is back on the map again behind freshman point guard Jahii Carson (who saluted himself as the best point guard in the Pac-12 on Christmas night) and Sun Devil fans are ready to be optimistic again about the direction of the program. As Ben Haber at House of Sparky points out, even if this team’s 10-2 record is built on the back of a somewhat weak schedule, the mere fact that the Sun Devils are an entertaining team to watch (and, yeah, let’s be honest, wins help too) is a significant upgrade over the past two seasons.
- As the non-conference seasons winds down, the number of interesting games on the slate begins to dwindle. We have Missouri and UCLA tomorrow night, and then on Saturday a couple of interesting East-West match-ups as Harvard visits California and Washington heads out to visit Connecticut. The latter match-up between a couple of groups of Huskies is an inter-regional rivalry with plenty of history behind it. And, for the UW folks, memories of those match-ups aren’t pleasant — the history includes Rip Hamilton’s buzzer-beater in 1998 and a 2006 Sweet Sixteen overtime game that again sent Washington home in crushing fashion. The first one hurt Lorenzo Romar just because of his status as a fan and an alum of UW, but the latter goes down as Romar’s toughest loss.
- Lastly, it is about that time where we begin to look full-bore at conference play, reassess where we were oh-so-wrong in the preseason, celebrate our few moments of clarity and come up with a whole new batch of guesses for the rest of the year. We’ll delve into that plenty early next week, but The Register-Guard already has its team-by-team Pac-12 preview ready to digest. Arizona’s clearly the favorite, but beyond that, I’d say the surprises are Oregon at #5 (too low), Washington at #6 (too high) and USC at #10 (the Trojans still play basketball?).
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