Is it just me or is the Wednesday slate absolutely packed? There’s four games and the worst match up is Washington @ Oregon. If that’s the worst game then I think we’ve got what experts and otherwise would call a good conglomerate-o-competition. Furthermore, I’m going to be attending two Pac-12 games this week in two different states and seeing four different teams. Put that on your Southwest credit card and charge it (please?). College Game Day is going to be in Boulder this weekend – as will I – and the weather forecast there isn’t freezing. Things are turning up Adam aside from the fact that my attendance at Wednesday’s UCLA @ Cal game is going to keep me from that mega slate-o-Pac. Alas, I’ll be doing a production behind the scenes report for Pacific Takes. Not entirely sure what it is, but it’s an experience. I like those.
GotW: Arizona at Colorado. I don’t care if there are sexier games or more important games or better attended games or what. I’m going to this game and I’m going to have one helluva time. It’s the game I’m missing my ex-girlfriend’s wedding for (mom, dad, and grandfolks are attending) and, quite frankly, it fits the aforementioned billing of all the items I just said I didn’t care if it was not. Colorado is fighting for the tournament lives but sit in a relatively good place while Arizona is coming into a very important phase of their re-development post-Ashley. Look at Colorado’s “turnaround.” It took them 4+ games to find a groove without Spencer and this Ski Trip for the Wildcats is games 4+ and 5+ without my favorite Wildcat. I’m also not about to toss in the caveat that this game’s significance wanes pending tonight’s results. No matter the case, Saturday is significant for all parties. And I’m going to party. By the way, congratulations are due to the ex. I’m happy for her and she found her kind of keeper if he’s willing to be wed during basketball season.
Game to Avoid: I’d say just ignore Thursday. That’s a little extreme but I imagine we’re going to be a little exhausted after Wednesday’s monster schedule. If you need a little breather, want to catch some ice dancing or the luge, I support you, Pac-12 fan. Plus, WSU @ OSU…tough. Let’s just say there’s a lot more red on that KenPom Game Prep page than green.
Something to Prove: Percy Allen of the Seattle Times jumped the UCLA Bruins into the top spot in his power rankings and I can’t begrudge him that. They’re the winners of three straight and in convincing fashion, Kyle Anderson is playing like the conference POY, and the Wear family is putting up career highs in offensive efficiency. Steve Alford has things clicking in Westwood but here’s this weekend’s catch: They’re not in Pauley. They’re hitting the Bay Area and I’m going to get a first hand (if not behind the scenes) look at them tonight in Berkeley. We’ve discussed at length how difficult it is to win on the road but that’s why the Bruins have such a great opportunity to prove themselves as contenders. This is chest thumping time, a come-at-me-bro moment. I maintain this team has top-15 talent they just haven’t passed any of their challenging tests (@Mizzou, semi-@Duke, vs. AZ). This is their weekend to ride the sweet momentum wave into a wildly easy final four games (did you shutter a little when I wrote “into a wildly easy final four?” they’re good but not yet that good).
Something to Lose: It’s my Wildcats and they stand to lose whatever mystique and aura they built over 21 straight wins. I know their trajectory got jolted with a now bolted foot, but this is still an insanely good defensive team. It’s a skill I’m quick to tell you travels but if your jump shot gets left at baggage claim or – even worse – doesn’t even make the trip, you’re going to struggle. Instant offense, the kind of scoring that comes from blindly giving the ball to the best kid, often becomes a critical piece in winning tight road games. Exhibit: Nick Johnson. In Arizona’s two losses – both of which came on the road and down to the wire – the supremely talented junior is a combined 6-34. That’s not going to cut it. Particularly without Brandon Ashley there to do what he was able to do late. Ashley was this team’s most skilled player but this, unfortunately, is no longer about Brandon. Nick is and always has been this teams leader. As they head into a very difficult home stretch, his team is going to need him to be that best kid to remind everyone else just how good they are.
The YouTouber: This is a 15-year-old song. I bet you know all the words, too: