The beauty of this podcast is its real human element. There are some admissions of our own faults this week and a rich family history from Spencer. Of course the meat-and-potatoes of this pod centers around Pac-12 basketball and our day trip to the Cal-Saint Mary’s game.
While you’re listening this week, if you have the mobile phone dexterity, give us an iTunes review if you don’t mind. And if you’re curious about podcasts and why these sorts of questions are requested of you, here’s a breakdown from Vox.
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:
Damn this previews-due-on-Wednesday thing is a real quick turnaround but it ultimately just means we get to spread our watching out. I do love the routine of Thursday-Saturday but also appreciate the expansive television draw the league and network gain by not having games overlapped all Thursday night. Grinding out previews and reviews will be tough…
But unlike a Notre Dame defense, I’m up to the task.
I was hoping to get to attend my first Pac-12 game of the season Wednesday but it’s my pal’s birthday and so the two Bay Area games will likely be taken in peripherally. I don’t know what elements of mayhem this birthday celebration will get us in to but it can’t get much wilder than a monitor review in Tucson (still too soon?).
Anyhow, at the time of this writing (Tuesday night) I was tied with UCLA for number of road games played at zero. Yeah, you read that right. UCLA hasn’t played a single away game this season and while their trip to Houston to play Texas could be considered semi-road, the paltry 2,797 attendees barely qualifies it as a game, tree-noise-forest. Regardless, Ben’s Boys are winners of seven straight and somewhat surprisingly unranked after beating Missouri amidst that streak.
Game of the Weekend: The nod easily goes to Arizona’s first trip into Matt Court. Indeed the Wildcats have never played upon the trees and are winless against the Ducks as members of the Pac-12. I even read a tweet that a Vegas book keeper thinks this will be Arizona’s first loss. That, my friends, is a recipe for intrigue. And then getting down to it, these are two teams that match up pretty interestingly. Both squads spread things out pretty evenly as Oregon has six players scoring 8 or more points per game and Arizona has five such stand outs. Both make a concerted effort on the defensive end and while Arizona finds their way to victories on the perimeter (38% of shots from three at a 38% make rate), the Ducks are going to come at the Cats in the paint (just 29% from deep at a 31% clip). STATS! This game is ultimately a battle for momentum in a Pac-12 battle that is Arizona’s to lose. And I’ll be damned if winning don’t matter for something. Following my discussion with ATQ’sDave and Matt, I’m excited to see what a bumping Matt Knight experience looks like as those two ducks confirmed for me that this is the biggest game to hit that tree’d court since its inception and the since Dana donned the sidelines in Eugene.
Game to Avoid: Call me a Pac-12 homer but this is a tough one. I can derive story lines in just about every single game but that’s probably just because I’m the preeminent Pac-12 hoops blogger out there(?). Ha, that was arrogance stolen from Lost Angeles who’s moved on to Bachelor recaps (hilarious) after a disappointing USC football season. But seriously, eye balling the weekend there isn’t anything grossly abysmal but I can’t not (yes, double negative) look at USC’s visit to Salt Lake. These two teams combined for 12 wins last year and, for lack of a worse term, that’s god-awfully-tragically-rock-bottom. But a season removed from that crap, these two haven’t done too much to shift our thinking. Good on the Utes for already surpassing the six-win mark as well as their morally victorious trip to the Grand Canyon State. The Utes are on their way up from a really low, low. Meanwhile, the 6-9 Trojans have disappointed even though they’ve played the 10th toughest schedule in the nation. I can try and pump these two as formidable foes but until either one does something to boot the homer talk and get legit, there ain’t much to discuss.
Something to Prove: The California Golden Bears. Are they elite, average, or poor. It’s like Goldie Locks’ damn porridge bowls, and beds; I can’t tell if these guys are good, average, or bad. On the one hand, they have some tremendous talents in Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs. On the other, they can’t hold home court against Harvard; who may be an up-and-up program but who should not beat a Mike Montgomery team on its home court. So this weekend, when the Cal Bears host arguably the easiest of any of the travel companions, anything less than a sweep would be time for panic and the start of a dialogue I’m keeping an eye on: What to make of the Monty-in-Berkeley-era? As I’ve said, we’re very early in the season and I could see Cal being remarkably competitive with a consistent Ty Wallace, but they’re not there yet and they really should be. This weekend will be their best opportunity to prove they mean business.
Something to Lose: This early in the season, I can’t say there is a ton at stake but the Stanford Cardinal have a lot to lose this weekend. I’ve long thought of them as a sleeping giant in this improving Pac-12 and they’ve done little to make me believe they’re vastly improved from last season’s 26-win, NIT championship squad. Frankly, I think this team is a lot better than they’ve played to date and while they own competitive losses to Mizzou and NC State, they also wear losses to Belmont and USC; schools that have combined for two BCS victories including Stanford’s loss at USC. To this point, I’m too high on the Cardinal’s pieces to imagine they need to fight their way back into the mix but their 0-2 start doesn’t exactly instill confidence before they host a less than intimidating Washington faction. Anything less than a sweep for the Cardinal and I have to imagine the rest of the season’s games become must wins. Yeah, we drop “must win” in week 2 at PacHoops.
The YouTuber: I can’t get enough of this and maybe I’m late to the party on this but the Kansas City Chiefs’ head coach was, well…a big kid. Enjoy it: