When these teams squared off a season ago, Michigan was unranked and playing with a broken Mitch McGary. Four months later they had no Mitch McGary and were outfight B1G champs albeit the unfortunate carnage of the Harrison family in the Elite Eight (doesn’t losing in the Elite Eight suck?). The Michigan Wolverines are a real deal basketball program and losing to the New Jersey Institute of Technology is not indicative of really anything. So strike that from your memories.
Of course these two schools are now forever-ish linked by the career of Rich Rodriguez. Arizona still hasn’t been to a Rose Bowl and Michigan doesn’t have a football coach. This is basketball season.
And so, for the final edition of this home-and-home series, I’m asking the hard question of UM Hoops blogger,Dylan Burkhardt, umhoops.com. The game is Saturday. The lesson starts now.
Evidently this has become the week of PEDs, from ARod’s Miami issues to Ray Lewis accusations, it’s been a major topic which I’m willing to say is better than a week of fake girlfriends; and a far more lucrative sham. Seriously though, my stance on the roids debate is: You’re either good at baseball or you’re not (and that they probably should lock up enlarging the humans of the NFL). If they gave us more names than just ARod or Melky we’d have never heard of any of them. Cesar Carrillo, are you serious? Who is that? I’m not brushing it aside but the baseball writer’s need to get over themselves and accept that whatever these “cheaters” were doing made them oodles of cash and let them get their Americana hyperbole on during any and all of their feats. It’s one big hairy mess that was propagated by all. The vehement denials can stop though.
And it would seem that PEDs couldn’t even help some of these Pac-12 teams. I suppose HGH for recovery purposes might do the trick as it seems more and more teams are weeding out the non-contributors (or sustaining injuries) en route to six man rotations. I mean, UCLA-ASU last week featured ten players getting 30+ minutes on the floor. Holy ice baths!
Now consider this SAT prep analogy: PEDS:Controversy::Shabazz:??. Well, the answer here would be controversy again. While the Bruin has never been accused of roids (that’d be weird and arguably unprecedented in collegiate hoop) his adherence to the rules has often been questioned. Each time his amateurism or eligibility has come in to question, he’s somehow become ill? While the NCAA deliberated clearing him to play in October/November, Shabazz sustained a shoulder injury. As UCLA currently investigates his flashy backpack, he’s listed as day-to-day with “stomach illness?” Whatever. The Bruins are going to be in some awesome unis tonight and that’s a better story. (see image above)
Note that I may be tardy on some work next week, the Harbowl is going to consume my San Francisco Sunday.
Game of the Week: So this is one of those weeks where you hope all those people who are all, “Oh, nanner nanner nanner the Pac-12 sucks, losers, bad,” aren’t paying attention because while I know and you know that there are some very competitive teams going at it, this weekender pales in comparison to the likes of many other conferences this weekend. I mean, Oregon @ Stanford just doesn’t sound all that marquee. And maybe I’m blinded by the fact that the B1G is featuring 1v3 this weekend. Whatever the case, I really think the Arizona State-Washington game on Saturday is the GotW. ASU is and will be on a constant battle to prove themselves and Washington is a tough team to put a finger on. But they’ll be at home with a favored opportunity to beat an opponent of equal to greater value. That’s to say: pretty good amount on the line here.
Game to Avoid: Are you kidding me? Oregon State is playing at Stanford at noon on Super Bowl Sunday? What Bay Area local is going to attend this game, honestly? The Niners are a handful of years away from playing all-but-in Palo Alto and then there’s the whole Harbaugh aspect. No one has any interest in this game, it’ll be a miracle if they draw 300 people.
Something to Prove: What team is Cal going to be? They’re back at the friendly confines and have really been quiet in Pac-12 play. They’ve essentially taken care of business. Slowly but surely – if that phrase even applies – they’ve settled into a bout of gross mediocrity. This is not good. They play host this weekend to the Ducks and get Brandon Smith back. Is that going to be enough? As thin as they’ve been the extra body should help. Look, Mike Montgomery is a terrific coach which is why I’d expect this group to compete a touch harder than they have. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and guess that Monty revitalizes this crew, awakening them to some semblance of their potential. They may not beat the Ducks but they shouldn’t give a disinterested vibe.
Something toLose: I’m not entirely sure the Washington Huskies have all that much to lose. Regardless they still stake claim to those three road victories and an increasingly impressive win over Colorado. Now, however, they’ve lost three straight to far inferior competition plus Oregon and are in jeoprady of five straight. The Arizona schools are proving the toughest trip to make/host and Washington could come out of Super Bowl weekend a painful 4-5; which is to say the Huskies stand to lose their season here, or maybe drive the nail in as. Their early conference heroics may have revitalized some hope but the scenario I’ve laid out here could be devastating to a team who’s testicular fortitude has been questioned.