Week 4 Pac-12 Basketball Preview

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So the burning question is: will there even be games this weekend in the Pacific Northwest? Or at least Washington State, that is. Incredible snow and ice storms have been blasting the Apple State so much so that both UW and WSU have cancelled classes. The games, however – as of this writing – were still set to be played.

In other news, two more critical players are no longer rostered: Josh Watkins of Utah and Richard Solomon of Cal. Watkins was Utah’s only leading scorer at 15.6 ppg and had already been suspended once this season. In summary: he Nelsoned. Solomon is also a previously suspended player (who in the Pac-12 isn’t?) but his season ending violation was academic. The Bears are going to need to get Harper Kamp going in Solomon’s absence. He was their leading rebounder.

On to the games:

TV Complaint: Three blackouts this weekend, two of which “feature” Washington State. Tonight’s Arizona-Utah game is broadcast-less which is justifiable, right? Seeing as how Arizona draws twice as much as the average Pac-12 school (13,639 vs. 6836). So there will be plenty of viewership. Fail. Unless of course you’re in Tucson, it’s on TV there. To address the Cougar fiasco, there are two possible reasons:

  1. The TV providers recognize that most Cal and Stanford fans (both playing at WSU this weekend) are tech/web savvy and very involved in SOPA/PIPA activism. Amidst gross confusion during a desire to appease the Bay Area fan bases, the providers blacked out TV for these games instead of web based coverage.
  2. The current Pac-12 TV deal is insufficient.

The rationale for said non-broadcasts is for you to decide. I don’t care which you pick I just know you’re not going to watch. It would have been fun to watch Brock Motum battle a deep Stanford front court. Pity. There’s also no network game following a week in which Arizona and Oregon faced off on CBS.

Game of the Weekend: If the game is played (snow), tonight’s tilt featuring Cal and Washington is a no doubter. The Huskies are terribly difficult to figure out but one thing’s for certain (unless of course they’re playing South Dakota State): Romar wins at home. Speaking of LoRo, the tenth year coach has come under some heat this season and I think you should read this (against) and this (for) when formulating your opinions. Very good work there, but back to the hoops. Cal is playing some great basketball but is now short their top rebounder. UW is looking to assert itself as legit contenders particularly as their early loss to Colorado is looking more-and-more excusable. I’ve read a lot of different pieces arguing which UW player their season will follow. Some say Tony Wroten. Others say Terrence Ross. Reality is the Huskies need both of them to be productive team players especially in the absence of CJ Wilcox. The sharpshooter averaging 15.5 ppg (second most on the team) went down last weekend with a fractured foot. So if this game means UW is showing they can take the next step and sit atop the conference, the converse holds true for Cal. If they can get out on the road and beat UW in Seattle, then Cal is leaps and bounds the conference favorite. One last note: the UW Dawg Pound is one of the toughest student sections in the conference if not nation. The UW students are snowed in and won’t be attending class today. I’m just saying, rowdy could happen.

Game to Avoid: I hate to pick on the Utes and Sun Devils (ok, I don’t mind picking on the Sun Devils) but their game on Saturday has got to project as one of the worst BCS conference games this year. They rank 321 and 172, respectively, in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings and each is now missing their leading scorer – plural in ASU’s case. Maybe the silver lining is that ASU has played progressively better with the loss of more and more players. This week it’s Trent Locket, the point-everything for Herb Sendek is out at least Thursday against Colorado and questionable for Saturday. His return would no doubt be a boost for ASU but who knows? Utah, of course, will be short Jiggy Watkins and basically the Utes are at rock bottom. Best of luck to Coach Krystkowiak.

Something to Prove: I don’t want to dedicate this entire preview to Washington but they really do have the most to prove this weekend. With the conference elite visiting their most friendly of confines, a sweep would put the Huskies in sole possession of first place and demonstrate their legitimacy. It would no doubt get a lot of people talking about how good they are or could be. It’d also get them talking about the enigmatic nature of this conference. Aside from the Huskies, Arizona and Colorado have a huge match-up on Saturday. Both teams are 3-2 (pending Thursday’s results) and are having opposite seasons: Arizona is falling while the Buffs are rising. Sweeping the Ski Trip won’t necessarily validate the Wildcats, but it will give them some momentum and confidence before a four game stretch against the Washingtons and the Bay schools. Sweeping the Arizona schools would validate Tad Boyle’s group as, if nothing else, a very fine ball club despite preseason expectations.

Something to Lose: Last week’s team du jour, the Oregon Ducks, got some national ink from Andy Katz, proposing their candidacy as Pac-12 champions. The attention was deserved and Oregon is good. They’ve been the toughest road team in the conference which bodes well for their title run. But, like all contenders, they’re going to have to win at home. They’ll host the LA schools this weekend and while USC possess little threat, UCLA is frightening. They’re intermittently talented and big and you just never know what you’re going to get. But back to Dana’s Ducks. They’re intriguing. This weekend will go a long way in showing how good they are but with all eyes on the team du jour, a hiccup could be costly – particularly against USC (a warning for all teams).

Weekend YouTuber: We’re all well aware that the Pac-12 is in a sorry state of basketball affairs. But at least none of your teams made this list. Just notice how powerful you feel when you say Bruin, Husky, Cougar, Wildcat, or Trojan. Just makes you want to mean mug. Grunt and chest bump. Of course the Honey Badger used to be bad ass, too: