I spent the Pac-12 week on the East Coast and I maintain a West Coast bias. That said, it was mostly quiet on the Western Front as the conference’s top-4 teams established themselves as…the top-4 teams. Of course Utah asserted themselves on the road and Cal did something they’d never done before. We’re 2 weeks away from some definitive answers but I’m not comfortable pretending like I know anything.
The Ducks control their own destiny for the conference’s #1 seed and that means a lot. Their remaining schedule shapes up heavenly for that scenario considering their only road games are in Los Angeles and UCLA isn’t particularly good and USC was proven beatable at home this week. Also, you gotta see this:
Oregon’s Elgin Cook … wait for it … pic.twitter.com/V5xK31a74C
— Doug Haller (@DougHaller) February 21, 2016
The Wildcats are starting to play their best ball of the season and it likely correlates with the play of Parker Jackson-Cartwright. He was moved into the starting lineup during a road trip to Washington (Kadeem Allen was sick) and since then (5 games) has 21 assists to just 5 turnovers. The sophomore struggled in the non-conference from distance, shooting just 21% (6-29 3FG) but is now leading the Pac-12 in conference play 3FG% (53%). Arizona doesn’t necessarily control its own #1 seed destiny but is still in pretty fair shape to at least share the Pac-12 crown.
Here’s my Utah hot-take: The Utes have effectively locked up a top-3 seed for Las Vegas with a really nice shot at actually winning the whole damn thing. They’ve got 3 home games to close out the season and if Jakob Poeltl has a big game against Arizona on Saturday he will be the conference’s Player of the Year.
They got two road wins! That’s HUGE for this team who was legitimately on bubble watch a week ago with zero road wins and 4 road games remaining. Now they’re once again “explosive” and “elite” and “dangerous” but really just because they can defend. For the record (and I’m on the record as a Cuonzo detractor): Cuonzo plays Kameron Rooks and Kingsley Okoroh a combined 26 minutes per game on the nation’s leading – leading – 2-point defensive team.
Here’s where the conference really crapped the bed last weekend. From five down it’s a total zoo. USC actually moved up in the Power Rankings despite a home loss and a poor home performance. Look below, however, and tell me anyone else is deserving?
The Buffs had a really tough final 50 minutes in Southern California. They blew a 15-point lead with nine to play at USC and then mailed it in at Pauley. I did, however, watch the former of these two games from the East Coast and hold no bias.
All season long we’ve lauded how fun the Dawgs are and how great they can/will/could be next season. Well let’s consider how they’re closing out this season with what projects to be the same roster as next season. They started conference play 5-1 and are 3-7 since. I want my team’s of the future improving as the season progresses.
While the sentiment seems consistent, I’ve already begun to see the hot seat articles popping up again. The Bruins, consider, are 6-8 in conference.
Is GP2 the single most important player to a team in the Pac-12?
They’re 13-12, project to be 14-15, and I still don’t think they’ll have a job hunt.
I received an email. I get a lot of those as I’m a professional and it’s how businesses communicate these days (also on Slack, Lighthouse, JIRA, Confluence, Workfront, etc.) but this one was of the personal ilk, sent to the PacHoops inbox. The author shall remain unnamed but they are a cherished friend of the blog and a bright basketball mind. The author was writing me out of the blue to share 762 words on why Washington State is horrendous.
He’s not wrong.