Monthly Archives: March 2012

What to Make of Josiah Turner’s Suspension

It wouldn’t be a 2011-12 Pac-12 basketball event if there wasn’t a significant suspension right?

After all, this is the year of USC’s injuries and Sports Illustrated and Kevin Parrom’s tragedy and player suspensions and player dismissals. So when Josiah Turner was suspended – his third “DNP Coach’s Decision” this year – it came as now surprise.

But now what to make of it? FIND THE HUMAN FLAWS!!!

Let’s point a finger at Turner and demand him out of the program. I mean, three suspensions is treading on Nelson territory and is utterly unacceptable. Now let’s look at Sean Miller’s program. The third year coach has missed, in some capacity, on 42% of his recruits (from flops to departures) and that doesn’t include the impending careers of Turner (departure candidate) and Jordin Mayes (flop candidate) who was given a scholarship over Tucson local and ACC scoring champ, Terrel Stoglin.

Dare we? Get outta here!

Turner broke rules so he got suspended. And not for a half at that. The season has come to an exhausting peak and appears to have culminated in some bad decisions. Miller said it himself that Turner “is not a bad kid.” He’s making some form of bad decisions and he’s paying the price. Such is life.

And as for Miller, I’m on board. I couldn’t be happier he’s in Tucson and I don’t think people realize just how bottomed out Arizona was when he took over. The class that fell into his lap was glorious but created of veil over reality that this was a program short three recruiting classes. Now, Miller’s third true recruiting class, is heralded as other worldly.

The Wildcats are right about where they should be in year three and Josiah Turner is right about where he should be after doing what he’s done.

Will he get any better? Maybe.

The end goal is that you hope he learns from this in whatever manner he’s meant to learn, right? Sports teaches us lessons and coaches are entrusted to convey those messages. Winning is a byproduct of those lessons and the big question becomes: what gets compromised?

If it’s rules, looks like Miller wont. If it’s attitudes, looks like Miller’s missed on a few prospects.

Time will tell but I think everything will wind up – OK.

Championship Bout of the Pac-12 Coaches Death Match

Championship is over. See who won.

Huge melon, meet incessant cough. Cough, melon.

I won’t bore with the minutiae like that fact that these two combined for 42% of the total votes in this Death Match. Or that Miller accumulated 408 votes to Tad’s 378. Popular? Sure. Savage? Undoubtedly.

Look into the Colorado Carnium’s eyes:

Yes. This image is saved as "Tad's Eyes."

Do you see an ounce of sane in there? What in the world do those eyes say? Victory comes to mind. So do bat feces and DGAF. Tad rolled his way into the finals, abusing Monty, Dawkins, and CRob.

But now I’m not about to run back Whooping’s request to catch the ball. There’s enough viciousness in that GIF to frighten even Joseph Kony. Instead I’ll remind you that Miller so furiously doesn’t give a rat’s tail that he suspended his starting point guard indefinitely right before his team’s 2012 Pac-12 tournament debut. Holy mind F as he’s about to obliterate Ben Howland and his spineless suspension policies (on the court, of course).

The time is now. The ‘ship is here. Miller. Boyle.

Who will win the Pac-12 Coaches Death Match?

#5 Sean Miller vs. #7 Tad Boyle

  • #5 Sean "Whooping" Miller (52%, 440 Votes)
  • #7 Tad "Colorado Cranium" Boyle (48%, 403 Votes)

Total Voters: 843

Loading ... Loading ...

 

BB: Alex “Tree” Jacobson and The Program

There will be a few more games to play and who knows whether or not they’ll be on CBS or Tru TV or ESPN.

That’s to say, the Wildcats could be dancing or whatever you call an NIT appearance. However you frame it, there’s still a brief amount of season remaining, the slightest bit of Alex Jacobson’s Arizona career to unfold.

The big boy out of Mater Dei, aptly referred to as “Tree,” hasn’t played much at Arizona. He’s battled back injuries and some talent hurdles but by all accounts he’s been nothing short of a great kid, a diligent worker, and dedicated to the program.

He’ll get his degree, five seasons of college basketball, a trip to the elite eight and sweet sixteen, and probably some free drinks somewhere along the way. So what of this seven-footer who once shot 83% from the field and 57% from the line in a season? Who scored fifty career points, grabbed sixty career rebounds, and dished six career assists?

Jacobson is the last recruit of Lute Olson’s to wear an Arizona jersey.

Before the medical leave or KO or Pennell or Sean, Jacobson enrolled at the University of Arizona; a promising center joining the 2007 class of Jerryd Bayless, Jamelle Horne, Laval Lucas-Perry, and Zane Johnson. It was the eighth rated class in the nation that year. Tree was joining a preseason top-20 team with sights on big things.

Then the aforementioned (upon aforementioned, upon aforementioned) happened. And there’s absolutely no need to relive that past; it’s been addressed ad nausea how many times it’s been addressed ad nausea.

It happened and here we are, watching the last of the great Lute Olson’s recruits complete his time in the program.

A program Olson built from a four-win team in 1983 to a 25-consecutive NCAA tournament bound team; to a thirteen sweet sixteen appearance team; to a twelve-time conference champion team; to an eight time Elite Eight appearance team; to a four-time Final Four attendee team; to the 1997 National Championship team.

Olson built a program.

And so when Alex “Tree” Jacobson removes the cardinal and navy for the last time; when a new number 50 is hitting the weights and the track and the Richard Jefferson Gym; whenever that happens, a part of Arizona Basketball history will become complete.

Maybe it’s an era, tenure or the legend of it all. Whatever you want to call it, a piece of Wildcat-lore will become complete, a fond memory building upon countless others, meant to be recounted over-and-over-and-over again as part of a glorious past that’s delivered us to this point today.

No matter where Jacobson suits up for the final time as a Wildcat, remember why he ever suited up in the first place. And how you ever became an Arizona fan.

Olson’s last recruit may be finishing, but Olson’s built something far bigger than a 2007 recruiting class.

He built Arizona.

This post can also be found at pointguardu.com.

Semifinals Takedown Shakedown: On to the ‘Ship

And then there were two.

Just like that first Monday in April, two remain standing. A pair of powerhouses built to endure, engineered to abuse, wired to win.

Sean “Whooping” Miller defeated Kevin “Bruisin’ Boozin’ Bozo” O’Neill in a tightly contested match up that saw KO lead for much of the bout. It somewhat paralleled their respective employments at the University of Arizona as O’Neill commanded the lead role before quietly and quickly being relieved of those duties in favor of the younger, more adept and successful, Miller. Which is how Whooping rolls: winning.

In our other red carpet walk into the championship semifinal fight (aka The Dome Bowl) the Colorado Cranium [insert destructive verb here]. There was nothing left in CRob’s tank as Boyle jumped to something like a 38-0 lead before I noticed an IP address in Phoenix finally voted for the Capacious Corvallion. You wanna talk mercy? Phoenix is as red a votership as they come. Alas, Tad is in the ‘ship that could break the internet (probably not though because everyone’s hard over The Wire still and Grantland is behind it so that’s the faux bracket to break the interwebs).

So again, here we are, a shining moment of sorts, that instance where the spotlight shines on two with the opportunity to stand alone as Death Match Champion. I repeat: Champion.

Gloves tap tomorrow, 3/8.

Not So Coaches Pac-12 Conference Awards

Yesterday marked the announcement of an underwhelming but no less congratulations-worthy Pac-12 awards. Jorge was POY and dPOY; LoRo COY; Brock MIP; and Wroten FOY.

Whether I agree or disagree, gentlemen, I congratulate you. The coaches spoke and so it is. Bravo.

A Few Notes:

  • USC was eliminated from awards consideration in most categories due to five season-ending injuries
  • Thanks are in order to the selection committee: Hatty, Doctor J, BH, Baby Dock, Sweet Child, and Tiny Dancer (I had full veto power)
  • For all the crap this conference took, it was a fun year with six teams in it to the wire. And with that painful final weekend, in a sick and rubber necking kind of way, I’m even more intrigued by what’s about to transpire in the Staples Center. Oh March.

Now, here are your Not So Coaches Pac-12 Awards:

The Dorothy – Awarded to the league’s worst home team.

UCLA Bruins

I dunno about you but I’ve always had a Judy Garland crush. The wavy hair, the red lips, the bold adventurousness of Dorothy. But she had to run away in order to find out there’s no place like home. The 2011-12 season was just that for the homeless UCLA Bruins. Sure they compiled an impressive 8-1 home record – completely backwards from a “worst” award – but they never played in Westwood, finished seventh in conference attendance, and hosted half their games on rival USC’s campus. Perhaps this trying year – from LMU to Reeves to Sports Illustrated – has been their journey through Oz. A path of self discovery to eventually click their heels, close their eyes, repeat a cutesy phrase and come to realize it was all just a dream. Also considered: USC (1-8 at the Galen Center not including a 10-point loss to UCLA on their own campus)

The Steinbrenner – Awarded to the one player you’d want on your team, and hate on theirs.

Jorge Gutierrez

Ask Cal fans and they love him. Ask Yankees fans and they love him. Common denominator? Everyone else hates them. And if everyone hates you it probably means you’re doing things they’re not which is usually winning. We’re all west coasters so I see no need for further explanation using words like “hatred,” “Yankees,” or “Steinbrenner.” But Jorge (pure coincidence on the George/Jorge thing), for all the holes and flaws in his Pac-12 POY awarding, is a winner. He plays HAM and buzzer-to-buzzer so it’s no wonder the coaches doled out the career achievement POY award. And as my Montlake Madness friends said, “Put it this way, if I could have one player off of any team, it would be Guti.” Hence: The Steinbrenner. Jorge also fought a coach not unlike a Billy Martin incident. Also considered: EJ Singler as the jack-of-all trades brother of a Dukie and the hair cause you know you wish you could rock it.

The Grecian – Awarded to the team that did the least for the collective.

Utah Utes

Welcome to the Conference of Champions! Larry K and his eleven new players did no favors by way of improving conference perception this year. When parts of the early season conversation revolve around the odds Utah would be the worst BCS conference team of all-time, then you know it’s going to be bad. I mean, people were excited by the prospect of Utah’s historical misery. Their time will come – it’s not as if basketball is foreign to Utah (still bitter) – but it certainly wasn’t 2011-12, finishing with a BCS and league worst RPI of 266. But they’ll always have Stanford. Also considered: Arizona State who compiled a 10-20 season but still managed to give their coach a contract extension and of course USC was considered.

The BooYaPop – Awarded to the most surprising and unsuspecting season long performance.

Brock Motum

Firstly, we’re Americans and so we always go crazy – either jealously or adoringly – when a foreigner excels at our stuff. Just look at Jeremy Lin. So when Brock Motum, the junior Aussie, exploded into the conference’s most offensively efficient and wonderful player – a stat geek’s wet dream – it came as a complete and utter surprise. Of course I’ll have it be known that I wrote on the subject of Brock’s potential breakout in November (ignore the stuff about WSU jumping into the conference’s upper half, deal? Deal.) but that’s neither here nor there. Motum had a terrific season, and won the Most Improved award which in reality sucks but it’s the coaches way of rewarding the kid that wouldn’t otherwise win anything cause isn’t that good. I’m unfortunately all too familiar with this one except they also threw in Best Attitude with my Most Improved award at Lute Olson Basketball Camp and if that doesn’t scream “fat kid” I don’t know what does.  I’ve grossly digressed and I’m not going to get into the naming of this award. If you understand it, you know I got you. Also considered: Garret Sim has a career year as a senior, jumping his FG%, 3 FG%, and scoring a combined 35%.

The LeBron – Awarded to the team that passes in the end.

California Golden Bears

We’re all too familiar with the LeBron-clutch debate and if you’re not, turn on ESPN. But just because the greatest basketball player on earth gets a bad rep as a non-closer, doesn’t mean it’s a fad. It’s the opposite. So I ask you, Cal Bears, what the eff? This league was countlessly theirs to win and they closed like that? I wish you all could have seen my face as I wrote that cause it looked really sad. Kinda like you might look if you had LeBron, Wade, and Bosh on a roster and Udonis Haslem was taking the final shot (that said, there’s nothing awkward or sad about Steve Kerr taking the final shot). Moral of the story? If you’re going to be the best, close. Ask Mariano. Also considered: The Washington Huskies too tried their darndest in not winning the Pac that was eventually handed to them.

The Susan Boyle – Awarded to the coach that most exceeded expectations.

Tad Boyle

Susan Boyle sang the hell out of that Les Mis song and I might have cried watching it if singing humans didn’t make me so damn uncomfortable. Then there’s Tad. Picked to finish eleventh he led the rebuilding Buffs to a sixth place finish. Based on our very complex algorithm, Boyle wins the Susan Boyle in a landslide (algorithm: true finish – expected finish = level of exceeded expectations). Boyle scored a -5 here where Ben Howland conversely scored +4 to finish last (again, USC was eliminated from award consideration but KO did score a +5). Boyle (Tad that is) was overlooked for COY because, frankly, there ain’t much sexy about finishing sixth in a horrible conference. But whenever you can stick it to the talking heads – AKA me and those who prognosticate things like preseason rankings – then kudos are in order. Well done. Plus I’m pretty sure Susan Boyle has laid at least a make out or an OTPHJ on Simon Cowell. Also considered: Dana Altman and Ken Bone each scored a -2 when inputting their data into the Susan Boyle algorithm (SBA).

All Smooth Team:

Terrence Ross, Washington
Allen Crabbe, California
DeVoe Joseph, Oregon
Solomon Hill, Arizona
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State

All Fundamentals Team:

The Wear Family, UCLA
Brock Motum, Washington State
Kyle Fogg, Arizona
Jorge Gutierrez, California
Aaron Bright, Stanford

All Awkward Team:

Jesse Perry, Arizona
Aziz N’Diaye, Washington
Kyryl Natyazhko, Arizona
John Gage, Stanford
Reeves Nelson, UCLA

All Greg Oden (formerly the Old Man Face Team):

Olu Ashalou, Oregon
Solomon Hill, Arizona
EJ Singler, Oregon
Andrew Zimmerman, Stanford
Kyle Cain, Arizona State

Semifinals of the Pac-12 Coaches Death Match

Voting has closed for the semifinals. Read about the fights here.

It’s the Final Four.

Kind of like that one they play in a football stadium except this time Brad Stevens wouldn’t have even had a chance because he emanates baby giraffe.

Vote-n-share from 3/5-7.

#1 Kevin O'Neill vs. #5 Sean Miller

  • #5 Sean "Whooping" Miller (59%, 44 Votes)
  • #1 Kevin "Bruisin' Boozin' Bozo" O'Neill (41%, 31 Votes)

Total Voters: 75

Loading ... Loading ...

Ohmygodohmygodohmygod. You realize this fight is sort of a real one? KO hates Arizona. It’s the school that said, “Hey man! Wanna be our next coach? NOT!” And then there’s the whole thing where USC’s old coach paid players so then he had to quit and yield his entire recruiting class to Sean Miller who then took that group to an Elite Eight. But getting out Basketball History class, I think it’s safe to assume at this point that these two are the craziest tandem this tournament has seen. From ball catching requests to that Bozo haircut, no one wants to mess with either of these cats. Except they both want a shot at each other.

#6 Craig Robinson vs. #7 Tad Boyle

  • #7 Tad "Colorado Cranium" Boyle (81%, 65 Votes)
  • #6 Craig "Capacious Corvallian" Robinson (19%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 80

Loading ... Loading ...

I know Tad has reportedly killed a bear but the Secret Service is capable of some crazy stuff – like push Craig Robinson into the Pac-12 Coaches Death Match semifinals. In this unsuspecting but no less dramatic of semifinals, the combined hat size of these two men is roughly equal to the length of a Blue Whale. For relatability purposes of pure size alone, this match will be officiated by Sloth from The Goonies. Will the Capacious Corvallian Barack the world and find his way into the championship bout? Or will the Colordao Cranium meat paw the hell out of the Princeton grad?

 

Week 10 Pac-12 Basketball Review

I wouldn’t want to either.

This has been arguably the worst major conference performance in the history of major conferences and I wouldn’t want to win it either. Cal lost. Washington lost. Arizona lost. Colorado was swept. Bravo Ducks, but too little too late.

If you’ve been following along here all season, you know that I’ve made an effort to defend this conference, the teams that represent it, and the players who play the games. I told you that Cal was tough as nails and that Washington was talent rich and that Arizona would right its ship and that Colorado and Oregon just may be good enough to pull this thing off. I even made the argument that, at a certain point, we could toss out process and worry about final scores alone. Did you win? Yes, that’s good. No, that’ bad.

And so when this weekend came to its sulking close; as every worst case scenario played out (unless you donned green); as my three bid league prediction dissolved like a sand castle into a tsunami and as the national media moved on to discussing the at-large merits of schools that dole out liberal arts degrees, I threw in the towel.

Goodbye 2011-12, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Or better yet, do. Let that door give you a good pop so this 2011-12 campaign stings. So that rock bottom is remembered and makes it that much sweeter when the conversation moves back to tournament seeding and not worst ever commentaries.

A brief tale: years ago, after a high school baseball game my team had lost with a lackluster effort (lollygagging if we want to tap our baseball references), we met as a team in the – deep – right field corner for a tongue lashing. Between cool offs, coach sent us on a lap but it never seemed to cool him down and at a certain point, we had to take our jerseys off because we didn’t deserve to wear them. Then we ran another lap. Then got yelled at a little more. Another lap.

The anecdotal takeaway here? Run another lap Pac-12. Lose your jersey, cause at this point no one is scared of what it says on the chest and you don’t seem to want to do much in them anyways.

Run another lap and take a minute to figure out just what you want to do in Staples because at this point it’s anyone’s to lose.

The bitter weekend:

Leader in the Clubhouse: Defaults to Oregon. I will not elaborate as “leader” infers some sort of commanding characteristic.

Game of the Weekend: Well, Washington scored seven points in the final eleven minutes of a game in which they could have clinched an outright title; Cal lead for all of 98 seconds with the same opportunity as UW; Arizona was beat by the 229th worst team in basketball (KenPom) and yielded 87 points to them; Colorado was swept on the road to finish 3-6 on the road. There was opportunity abound to seize moments – that’s what March is all about – and no one beyond Oregon did such. We were entertained to the point of pain and is that what we want? Kind of. Cause sports tweaks at the emotions like few other things do or can but heading into the greatest athletic tournament in the universe I don’t want to hurt. I want everything to be ok. No good games. None.

The Big Loser: The Pac-12 Conference. See the aforementioned everything.

What We Learned: Sorta covered this in my opening rant because I felt it couldn’t wait. I will say this however. It’s been great Previewing and Reviewing this season here with you. I hope you’ve had as much fun with this season as I have and I thank you – so very sincerely much – for reading, sharing, commenting, discussing, debating, and trying to make sense of of it all. I’m ultimately a silver lining guy so behind all of today’s ranting, I know that there’s still a Pac-12 tournament for us to get rowdy around and an entire three weeks of Madness for us to get behind whether it’s represented by the Pac or not. Good season. *Butt slap* And bear in mind that pachoops ain’t going anywhere. Stick around.

Early week Youtuber: I’m looking at you Cal, Washington, Arizona, and Colorado:

 

Round 2 Takedown Shakedown: The Results & onto the Semis

Round 2 is in the books. It was ferocious and it appears that some of our contestants are growing stronger like this season of The Wire (that’s a complete fabrication as I have not yet dabbled in the show; yet making Wire references in sports columns is en vogue so please understand that was my attempt at a contemporary simile). Frightening.

Bozo stumbled out of the gate which, to the untrained eye, appeared to be a rope-a-dope but in reality it was just a vicious hangover. Per the typical KO aesthetic, this was a grind it out defensive bore that he won on underwhelming things like technical jabs, timely stoppages, and crazy hair. And, if you’ll recall our match preview, we likened this bout to Voldemort v. Potter and how Harry was channeling all that love from his family to overcome the pure evil of He Who Must Not Be Named. Remember? Well LoRo couldn’t channel enough Seattle basketball love what with KD5 and Westbrook scoring a combined 57 in the All-Star game and Durantula taking MVP honors home. Salt, meet wound.

The round’s second fight featured Whooping and K. Know that Sean Miller does his homework. He knew what he was up against and knew it would take great effort to upset the fourth seeded, 6’9″ beast of Montana Grizzlies-lore. In this tilt, Miller was undersized and understrengthed. He was essentially destined to lose. But he didn’t. Despite all of K’s confidence, preparedness, and viciousness, he forgot one very important fact and Whooping leaves no stone unturned. Whooping discovered, following extensive research, a home visit, and lots of bribery, that K once, on his seventh grade B team, dropped a pass from a teammate the resulted in a turnover. Sean doesn’t like dropped passes. Subsequently Sean rolled K, 254-76 (most votes single round votes, all-time).

Our third bout kinda breaks my heart because maybe he can’t help it? Maybe Johnny Dawkins wants to smile but he just can’t? Alas, the beating Tad put on Johnny (229-53) would be enough to make anyone never smile again and I imagine the Cruel Cardinal is now legitimately incapable of such. The meat paws of the Colorado Cranium were once again overwhelming to a Bay Area head coach as Big Boyle advances. Plus you must keep in mind that this is a “no holds barred, rule-less, lawless” tournament so it should come as no surprise that this is happening. Eff ’em up, eff ’em up, GO CU!

The closing match of Round 2 featured a peripheral, side-battle of sidekicks. The Capacious Corvallian, with a suspiciously large entourage of stoic square jaws with impressive GPAs from renowned universities, found a way to do what the Headless Horsemen could not: defeat Ichabod. It wasn’t easy – or pretty – but big Craig came out the winner. I don’t want to know what or how the secret service handled Miyagi but he was rendered a non-factor in this match. It’s one of those DADT situations we don’t need to meddle in. Congratulations on the win, Craig.

Next up? The semifinals open 3/5.

Week 10 Pac-12 Basketball Preview

Read it, don’t weep, at ryanrecker.com, along with a bevy of podcast goodies.

This is the finale. The last Weekend Preview we’ll read, the end of the regular season, the close of a forgettable year. But you know what?

It’s March.

The Madness is here and this is why – no matter how bad the early losses to South Dakota State, Loyola Marymount, Wyoming, or Seattle-Pacific sting – we kept watching. For the shots that fall a blink before zero and the names that are called on Sunday afternoon and for that mad Thursday and Friday where a two-hour lunch break is gone in a flash. To rationalize our favorite 12-seed winning it all and to become irrationally lost in a close game and to lose your five bucks in the office pool to Diane in HR who just thought Shaka Smart was cute. For one shining moment.

Yes, this is the greatest of the twelve months for all of those reasons and more.

Get excited. Get rowdy. Get some time off work.

The finale.

TV Complaint: Seventy-five percent of Thursday’s games will not be televised. This is undoubtedly a complainable offense but let’s re-frame it. Life’s better if we can twist things into something a little more bright so I will remind you – as Thursday’s sole televised game is a mega-matchup – that this evening’s broadcast shorcomings will be the last. Indeed this final weekend is the final weekend of regular season Pac-12 basketball (or football or baseball or water polo or gymnastics or underwater basket weaving) that we will ever endure sans the Pac-12 Network. Take a moment to turn this on and celebrate for a moment. No doubt you’ve followed the commentary but I’ll remind you that Larry Scott will be putting every regular season basketball and football game on television. No more hacking networks, radio pirating, or twitter fiending. Your games shall be yours. Rejoice.

Game of the Weekend: No buildup here. Colorado heads to Oregon to play, straight up, for a spot in the top four. We won’t discredit Saturday’s games when the Buffs travel to Corvallis and Ducks host the Utes, but Thursday’s game has major post-season ramifications. Should the Buffs win – their first major road win of the season in the final weekend – they’ll secure themselves the four seed (of course assuming the road sweep which is no easy task) as they would drop the tie-breaker to Arizona. If Dana’s Ducks win, they’ll wind up the three seed as they hold the tie-breaker over the Wildcats. But enough about standings, hypotheticals, and making asses out of ourselves, this is going to be a good one. We’ve outlined what’s at stake so now recall that Boyle’s Boys previously beat the Ducks on a “controversial” foul in the final seconds, sending Oregon home bitter. The rematch is on a bigger stage, with tangible outcomes and is the first big game in March. Doesn’t get any better than this.

Game to Avoid: Every game that doesn’t have top-four implications. Sorry, but if you don’t have a chance to dance then the season’s over. By all means I expect the teams to maintain their competitive spirit and try their best; channel their inner non-Bruin and show up. But that doesn’t mean you have to. Your time is precious and act accordingly. The current TV deal’s swan song will make most of this easy for you but don’t bother logging on to usctrojans.com to take in the USC-WSU game. Ignore the UCLA-WSU or Utah-OSU games, too. Beyond that avoidable triumvirate, every other game has Pac-12 (or bigger) tournament seeding ramifications. Down to the wire.

Something to Prove: A strong showing this weekend could put the Oregon Ducks in the Big Dance. Beating Colorado tonight will nearly guarantee them the third seed and a first round bye. But here’s the deal. Oregon has the second highest RPI (48 vs. Cal’s 37) and dances in six different bracket projections. I won’t spell out their tournament resume but know that these guys are intriguing and dangerous with an impending conference tournament to play. A tournament that could prove deal making – even without running the table – for the Ducks. But don’t mistake intrigue and opportunity for the red carpet. Sweeping the visiting Ski Trippers and making a run through staples is imperative and difficult. It’s a fragile destiny but one that Dana and his Ducks could control. Of course we need to hat tip here to the Buffs as they too have an equal shot to make some noise. If nothing else, Boyle and company can aggressively plant the CU flag on Pac-12 Mountain.

Something to Lose: Once the darlings of the downtrodden conference, California is coming off a semi-surprising loss to Colorado, sits alone in second place and should they lose on Sunday to Stanford – a place they’re 1-3 the last four years – Monty’s Crew could find their way to fourth place (I cannot fully substantiate that claim without extensive tie-breaker research but it’s semi-feasible and highly dramatic). It’s no time to panic in Berkeley but things have undoubtedly been brighter especially considering its felt as if the Bears controlled their destiny much of this season. I really can’t see Cal playing their way out of the Big Dance but the Bears could stand to piece together a nice little closing run. If for no other reason than their own sanity.

Weekend Youtuber: It’s time.