Tag Archives: Apple Cup

KevinMcCallister

Week 9 Pac-12 Hoops Preview

Much gets made of this homestretch we’re in. I frankly don’t know when the homestretch began but I’m utterly flabbergasted that Vegas is eerily around the corner as my mom indirectly reminded us.

But we’re not there yet. There’s still some spicy games to be played and this Wednesday/Thursday has about as many traps as a Kevin McCallister house. From Arizona overlooking the previously demolished Trojans; to Colorado peaking at the East Bay before concerning themselves with the Peninsula; to a pair of historically relevant rivalry games (The Apple Cup and The Civil War) that happen to include two squads who are a combined 5-25 (OSU and WSU), there are indeed stumbling blocks galore. And while these games aren’t going to force you to cancel any plans, I’ll guarantee you’re updating some scores on your phone when you’re sitting at a Happy Hour at some suburban Chili’s that doesn’t get the Pac-12 Network. Confessional: last Thursday, when my mom was visiting and my brother and I were sitting down to dinner with her, we were surprised and grateful as she excused herself to the restroom with impeccable timing, allowing us to fire up the Watch ESPN as Justin Cobbs was setting up his dagger into the Ducks and costing us no mom time. She must truly love us. Or vice versa. All I know is she would not have known what sport we were watching.

Alas, give your parents a call and enjoy the weekend:

(more previewing on PacificTakes if you’re into that stuff)

GotW: I coined this the conference game of the year way back in January and by golly I’m sticking to it. In fact, I’m going to attend it. Yes, I’ll be hoping in the Red Dragon (below) and racing down I-5 to catch the Bruins and Cats inside Pauley alongside Game Day and UCLA’s maybe second sell out of the season. Los Angeles is a city that indeed recognizes big moments and captures them. Hosting the Wildcats in the brand new Pauley is one of those moments no matter the feelings surrounding the UCLA program. And Ray, people will come. I’ll come from San Francisco for reasons I can fathom (/Field of Dreams). But beyond name recognition, this game has some major, direct, Waterworld-budget-sized title ramifications. These two currently stand tied for second with the tie going to the Bruins. Assuming no forthcoming stumbling Ducks, this is a battle for second place and perhaps a top-6 seed in the Dance for UCLA and a two-seed for Arizona. Big game.

RedDragon

The Red Dragon

Game to Avoid: We are just two weeks removed from season’s end and so it’s hard to find any game to avoid. However, your Sunday afternoon is likely best spent at a bottomless mimosa or bloody brunch than watching the Apple Cup. Washington State is two-for-the-conference season and Washington ain’t playing for a whole lot more than an NIT birth which I now know from personal fan experience is a far less exciting tournament to watch during the year’s third month. Unless of course Ray Lewis pops into your locker room.

Something to Prove: Cal is as hot as a pistol and hosting Colorado and Utah. As a Pac-12 contender they should sweep the weekend, right? The answer is yes but I’ll be curious to see how Cal suddenly plays the role of the hunted. They haven’t exactly impressed against lesser competition (they beat Oregon State twice by a combined 4 points) and all five of their losses have come to teams behind them in the standings (save UCLA). And now they’re definitively wearing a target, hosting a hungry group of Buffaloes looking to seal up their own run to the Dance. Not to mention they’ll also play host to Larry K’s tough Utes who manage to stay in a whole lotta ball games. The Bears will need to prove their mettle as conference elite if they too want to dance with the big kids.

Something to Lose: The Colorado Buffaloes have a lot going for them as they sit alone in fifth place with four games remaining – two of which involve teams ahead of them in the standings, which is to say that their remaining schedule allots them the challenge and opportunity to climb. They’re also amongst the Top-25 RPI teams which grossly behooves their tournament chances. Aside from the computer stuff, their situation reminds me of ASU’s but A) Colorado is in the dance as of today, and B) They’re better suited to close their season hot. But what if they don’t? I did mention that this ending would be a challenge and to struggle would be, in a word, bad. Traveling to the Bay is about as tricky of a trip as the conference provides and the Buffs are approaching that very challenge on this homestretch.

The Jam: **NEW SEGMENT** Encouraged by my man Zach, I thought I’d toss in whatever current song I’m really in to. It’s a questioned I’ve proposed to a number of folks I’ve Q&A’d and I’m always open to discovering new music. So send it right back my way. The inaugural The Jam is “You – Ha ha ha” by Charli XCX. A little synth pop for your Wednesday morning with a nonsensical music video but plenty of energy. Let me know if you know a better music sharing strategy than YouTube links.

The YouTuber: Go say shuttlecock to someone without laughing. Do it.

ShabazzUCLA

Week 1 Pac-12 Hoops Review

Well, well, well. If it isn’t conference play back and in our Thursday/Saturday faces. I enjoyed a grand chunk of Pac-12 hoops this weekend and while I’m still on the fence about these Wednesday games, I can totally get behind Sunday games and I definitively don’t miss FSN. Did any of you catch the Civil War game last night? The game itself was alright, the Ducks showed off some scoring depth and acumen, while Oregon State sorta confirmed they’re defenseless. Alas, the point being, I was inundated with VALUES.com ads (are those even advertisements? PSAs?) like this one and I’m pretty certain that I now have no interest in passing anything on to anyone. Did you watch the video yet? WHAT IS THAT?

Back to the hoops because by Friday morning, every game had been within five-points with under five to play and I wasn’t hungover. By Sunday night, nearly the same! Saturday’s games had a moderate ho hum about them but offered us a glimpse into a world where maybe the Utah Utes aren’t abysmal and maybe UCLA is just a really good team that had some growing pains.

Alas, solid first weekend of conference play, let’s head to the monitors to take a look at it (too soon?):

Leader in the Clubhouse: Based on their body of work, one has to consider the undefeated Wildcats here but seeing as how this is more of a week to week commentary, I have to say UCLA was the most fear striking team out there. If we’re to take Sean Miller’s word for it and believe Arizona is approaching the number one ranking in KenPom’s luck rankings (they’re 36th), then I’m not entirely sure I’m willing to call Arizona a leader after that weekend. Not to say they aren’t good or definitely the best team in the conference, but UCLA handling the Bay schools was most impressive to me. What makes me cringe however, and gives merit to the claims that Howland’s program is a joyless one, was the expressionless Bruin faces after each victory. They appeared robotic rolling thru handshakes which doesn’t really get me feeling one way or the other, just maybe that this team makes it way through this fascinating season with mechanical efficiency. Slice it however you will and I’m probably looking far too deep into far too little. Of course, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good…

Game of the Weekend: That little tilt down in Tucson Thursday night sure was an interesting one. It was expected to be the biggest game of the first weekend on paper and lived up to the hype and would later have the sports media world abuzz. And this guy’s commentary. I’m not one for harping on officiating as it’s a difficult job, blah, blah, blah…and to blame the stripes over and over and over is without a doubt the biggest little brother move anyone can do. But man, that one sure appeared to be blown. Colorado was the benefactor of a last second officiating gaffe last year, this stuff happens. But the game itself was a tremendous display of defensive brilliance and effort by the Buffs who held Arizona’s big three of Solomon Hill, Nick Johnson, and Mark Lyons to just 2-18 shooting before the tone of the game switched and the Wildcats decided to make a comeback. That’s where we got to see Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons play like the vaunted seniors we expect them to be. They scored a combined 24 across regulation’s final nine minutes (that’s 17 more points than the team combined to score in the games first eleven minutes), and accounted for half of Arizona’s overtime output. That’s senior leadership and that’s how you do special things. The Wildcats escaped with another tight one that the Buffs just might be face-palming about later this season.

The Big Loser: The two biggest candidates here have got to be Colorado and Stanford as the only two-loss teams in the conference. I’d also consider throwing Washington State, USC and Oregon State’s names into the hat as they each now possess home losses. By my nature (grossly neurotic) decisions frighten me but I’m not inclined to call the Colorado Buffaloes losers this week. For a grand chunk of their time in McKale they were the better team and arguably had that one ripped out their hands. Their Tempe time was a little different and I really think ASU just beat them but if I’m Colorado, I have to think there are still enough positive takeaways to not be too down on this weekend. Also because Stanford kinda just got beat all weekend. They didn’t execute down the stretch against USC, a game they got 0/2/2 and 3 turnovers in just 15 minutes from Chasson Randle, and were just not nearly as good as UCLA. The Cardinal were a team I thought would be clicking a little better than they currently are. To be certain, they don’t appear to be a team all that pissed off for greatness.

What We Learned: I think this weekend went a long way in confirming the company line each coach has been pumping since August: The Conference is improved. Few if any have gone so far as to say the Pac is “good” but they can get behind “improved” which is basically saying that none of these teams historically suck again. A fact I think we are starting to see. Utah played two very tough games in Arizona and Jason Washburn and Jordan Loveridge appear to be the real deal. Arizona State took a couple shots from Colorado and, by games end, had flipped the defensive script on the Buffs and won the ball game. I have no resounding commentary on the Apple Cup rivalry other than it played out like a good rivalry game should and that those two (UW and WSU) aren’t going to be doing too much this season by way of getting the Pac considered “good.” But, on the whole, this is an improved conference.

Start of the Week YouTuber: All right, I’ll confess the following: 1) By posting a video surrounding the monitor mishap, I’m being a hypocrite and propagating an uncontrollable event from the past. But this video is great. 2) This is video is hosted by Vimeo and not YouTube. So sue me.

Arizona Colorado from DJ K3G on Vimeo.

 

Week 9 Pac-12 Basketball Preview

Share this post with someone if you’re tired of minute by minute changes to bracketology and hearing about Big East schools.

Yes, we’re at that time of year where you’re only as good as your last game and perhaps rightfully so. The big race in the Pac-12 might be to avoid the five seed and get yourself into that bye game seat. But, like I said, you’re only as good as your last box score so just win. We said it after Washington was rolled by Oregon and the concept remains true. Especially while looking at a weekend such as this one in which there’s a whole slate of uninteresting must-wins.

And here’s the thing, relying on the conference tournament for a tourney birth is mid-major stuff. Win some ball games and let the Conference of Champions logo and Larry Scott take care of you. Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s how it works in the Big East and for all that I want to knock it they get into the tournament. It’s not like New Coke. There’s one recipe: winning. Stick to it.

Say, speaking of tournaments, you oughta get over here and vote in the Pac-12 Coaches Death Match. How does your coach stack up? Vote, comment, share.

The weekend.

TV Complaint: The best team in the conference and the team ESPN and others have refused to call a tournament “lock” – but what’s that really matter with two weekends left and conference tourneys to play – won’t be aired tonight. This fact further confirms my issue from Monday’s opener that Utah is the black hole of the conference right now and renders their opponent – regardless of RPI, prestige, standings – completely irrelevant. Then, of course, there’s the web airing of UCLA’s game which I don’t know what to make of. ASU and UCLA represent the two largest population bases in the conference and will have their game – regardless of RPI, prestige, standings – also rendered completely irrelevant. However, unlike our other game of irrelevance, the Bruins and Devils are at fault.

Game of the Weekend: It’s not UCLA and Arizona. That used to be an edge of your seat game in which champions and regional seedings were determined. Now it’s reluctantly broadcast on CBS as two teams with underwhelming resumes battle in one of the more unique must-wins in recent Arizona history. Alas, none of that equates to a game of the weekend. That prize swiftly and obviously goes to Sunday’s Colorado-California game (assuming Colorado beats Stanford tonight which may or may not be a leap assumption). The Buffs are undefeated at home in conference play and quietly sit alone in third place. A win here and the Buffs catapult themselves into contention for a conference title. Real talk. When these two faced off in Berkeley – a game I attended – Boyle’s Boys outplayed the Monty Crew in a tightly contested battle. I’m excited to see what happens A) in the CEC B) with Cal having a chance to secure the conference title, and C) who Ben F picks on The Bachelor (seriously read that blog if you know what’s good for you).

Game to Avoid: Too easy here. USC visits ASU. Blah, blah, these two are so bad but maybe it’s like that wedding where you grossly disapprove of the marrying pair. He’s overly involved in her, the bend over backwards type. She’s beyond high maintenance, a Bridezilla so miserable WE Tv wouldn’t even take her (googled that reference). Everyone disapproves. But it’s going to be an open bar so you’re going to go. Nah. This game isn’t even worth the open bar.

Something to Prove: This one is falling squarely on the shoulders of the Colorado Buffaloes. There’s a case to be made for Arizona and Oregon again as they’re both in contention for quality seeding or to at least avoid the five seed. But they each had a shot to jump in the standings and dropped that ball. So now it’s the Buffs’ turn. They’re 1.5 games out of first and get a shot at Cal at home. Should they sweep out and Washington drop one down the stretch, the Colorado University Buffaloes would be your 2011-12 Pac-12 Conference Champions. Let that sink in. It’s possible and it starts Thursday against a struggling and beatable Stanford Cardinal in the CEC. #YouCantWinAtAltitude has been the most sure fire thing in the Pac-12 thus far, so why should it fail them now? Toss in that this is the last home slate for seniors Austin Dufault, Nate Tomlinson, Trey Eckloff, and Carlon Brown and you just may have a recipe for winning…the league.

Something to Lose: While first place is currently shared, I still think it’s the Washington Huskies who stand to lose a lot more than Cal anytime soon. Despite their top spot, UW can’t sit cozily in the dance with the resume they’ll be handing out to committee members. They must keep winning. Their schedule is such that they should do just that but those damn UCLA Bruins tend to throw a wrench in everyone’s assumptions. I’ll say it, “THEY’RE SCARY.” But they’re also not. Anyhow, no need to analyze those guys at this point as UW and the Wroten/Ross show are seemingly rolling but not yet into the big dance; which is precisely what they have to lose at this point. This weekend the Huskies head to Pullman for the Apple Cup rivalry game. A trip they’ve returned victorious from just twice in the last six years. And this year doesn’t appear to be getting any easier. Brock Motum has been torching Pac-12 defenses and one of the softest spots in the Husky defense has been power forward. Brock plays the four? G’luck LoRo and crew.

Weekend YouTuber: With the Pac-12 Coaches Death Match upon us…