We are halfway through this season and it’s evident that 2015 is a tough season to cover. Basketball is being played at nearly two fewer possessions per game with nearly 6% less scoring per game (learn more here). The Pac-12 – the conference that chose me – is playing at nearly 2012 levels. Sure the top of the conference is better and the talent levels far surpass that which we saw in the fateful Pac-12 inauguration. But at least in 2012 there was a multitude of teams vying for a shot to dance. What crap could rise to the top? You can’t look me in the blog and tell me anyone but Arizona or Utah is going to win in Vegas. It’s seemingly foregone in early February. This is increasingly looking like a two-horse race to Selection Sunday. After that, 2015 has been…a rebuilding? That’s not going to stop us. Because Askia Booker has shots to take and so too does DaVonte Lacy. Kevon Looney is going to be the only freshman in the country to average a double-double. Have you watched Oregon State’s zone against everyone but Arizona State? Watch Elgin Cook pursue a shot, Gary Payton II defend, and Ty Wallace play. These are the last nine games you’ll see of Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, Stefan Nastic, Norman Powell, and Booker. You’ve got plenty of reasons to perhaps quit on this season. But champions never quit. This is the Conference of Champions (plus the page views, comments, tweets and shares make me feel good).
There’s a full slate of games this weekend as 10 of the Pac’s 12 are in action. Of course, Utah is playing so you might argue that only nine are in action but perhaps I’m being too harsh. Here’s linkage to the weekend schedule TV and all. But here it is cut and pasted, too:
Fri., Dec. 2
Washington at Nevada, 8 p.m. ESPNU
Sat., Dec. 3
USC at Minnesota, 1:15 p.m. BTN
Arizona State at Tulsa, 3 p.m. CBS SN
Northern Arizona at Arizona, 4:30 p.m. FSAZ/KWBA
Texas at UCLA, 1:30 p.m. FSN/PT
Utah at Fresno State, 1 p.m.
Eastern Washington at Washington State, 3:30 p.m. RTNW
Oregon vs. BYU, 3 p.m. (20) ESPNU
Sun., Dec. 4
North Carolina State at Stanford, 1 p.m. FSN
No. 24 California at San Diego State, 2 p.m. The Mtn
Montana at Oregon State, 5 p.m. RTNW
Naturally, all times are PST.
Briefly, before I get too far into the weekend preview and after mentioning TV, I’d like touch on the difficulty of watching and preview a post for next week: Larry Scott’s TV deal can’t come soon enough. I’ve already experienced two local football non-televised games (a Cal game and an Arizona game) and I’m now finding it a pain to find much Pac-12 hoops. While ESPN3 was convenient for Tuesdays’ Arizona-NMSU tilt, it shouldn’t take a stroke of Worldwide leader luck to get a West coast game in a West coast market. More to come.
Your weekend preview of Pac-12 games, the debut of this preview series.
Best Game You Can Watch: Texas at UCLA, Saturday 1:30 pm, FSN/PT
As the title suggests, this is the best game readily available for your viewing. We all know the struggles UCLA has had to date but that doesn’t mean they’re not a moderately talented squad. Texas comes to the Sports Arena an intriguing squad, loaded with talent but young talent. J’Covan Brown is filthy and is worth the watch in-and-of-himself. Then there’s the watch-a-train-wreck factor. As previously stated, UCLA appears as likely to implode as Reeves Nelson is to getting a new tattoo so maybe you should rubber neck and watch this car accident like it was in the middle of the 405.
Best Game You Can’t Watch: #24 Cal at San Diego State, Sunday 2 pm, The Mtn
Fristly, what the shit is The Mtn? I’ll answer: it’s the Mountain West Sports Network that won’t be airing the game in the Bay Area. This terrific game, featuring arguably the two best (I see you Gonzaga) teams on the West Coast, will be viewed by only a select audience. Preliminary searches show that the game is not even available on any Comcast Bay Area channel. But let’s get to the hoops and why, if you can, you should watch. San Diego State is 8-0 against the Pac-12 over the last 3 seasons (that includes 4 wins over Utah). Needless to say, Steve Fisher’s group has owned the Conference of Champions and it’s time to put them back in their rightful place: at the beach. Cal is more talented than the Aztecs who are coming off a tough home loss to Creighton. SDSU’s Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (I guess that’s better than Cox Arena?) get loud and rowdy so the veteran Bears had best bring their A game. As an added anti-bonus, traveling to San Diego isn’t even a bonus as the weather forecasts in both SF and SD are identical. Look it up.
Game not to watch: The only game not televised this weekend is Utah at Fresno State. And for good reason. These two powers are a combined 4-9, are the 180th (FSU) and 294th (UU) highest scoring teams in the country, and both have played (and fortunately beat) teams who don’t even have linkable team pages on ESPN.com – the same company that employs Rick Reilly and Craig James. Perhaps the networks are doing us all a favor keeping this one blacked out.
- Remember when Minnesota went to the Final Four? Neither does the NCAA. But feel free to ask Jan Gangelhoff to write about it.
- Washington State is in fact better at being Eastern Washington than Eastern Washington. Mapped it. However, this could be an “if a tree falls in the forest” argument.
- Rick Barnes: take your 16 NBA Draft picks and win something someone would care about.
- Maybe because the Fresno State game isn’t on TV, they’ll be better suited to throw the game.
- Ok, this may not be trash talk, but Steve Fisher is increasingly looking like John Wooden: