The opening/New Year’s weekend went unpreviewed but I’ll make no apologies for not caring much about less-than-exciting group of games while I sipped Tecates and had staring contests with Mexican sunsets. That said, with a little mileage now, this thing is starting to develop some story lines. Read on and here’s the schedule.
TV Complaint: Three of this weekend’s twelve games will not be televised. This segment of course debuts the day after the 2012 Pac-12 football schedule was announced and that every game will be nationally televised. That said, Cal @ OSU, ASU @ USC, and WSU @ Utah will only been seen by those in attendance. So what if the Sun Devils and Trojans will battle to a zero-zero tie and Utah could be playing with the guy in your chem lab. The point is: it’s 2012 and all major conference games should be broadcast in some capacity. The major crime this week is not getting to see what should be a great matchup between Jorge Gutierrez and Jared Cunningham in the un-aired Cal-OSU game.
Game of the Weekend: I’ve struggled to call this one but, based on the fact that there isn’t much at stake so early in the conference season, I’m going to go with the historical matchup: Arizona @ UCLA, 8 pm, FSN. I know, I know much has been made of the Bruins decline and they’re just 7-7 but there’s still something compelling to these two teams facing off. They’ve combined to win 21 of 31 conference titles and the only two national titles in that span. A heated rivalry has developed between the two on and off the court as Miller and Howland aren’t the best of pals and the Wildcats have swooped up some of Southern California’s top talent during this current Bruin dry spell. Speaking of dry spells, Arizona is just 2-10 in their last six trips to LA (both schools) getting smoked a few times in Pauley. But this matchup isn’t in Westwood and Sean Miller’s group has been playing well of late. Pay attention as UCLA is still a one point favorite.
Game to Avoid: Let’s take a frat/sorority theme to this one which may be too easy but we’ll roll with it. As STD rates sky rocket in Tempe, this could be the best chance for the Sun Devils to get anywhere near a Trojan. ASU has been giving the ball up like drunk Thetas, committing 16.5 turnovers per game, while not being a bro and playing wing man – just 12.1 assists per game. Meanwhile the Trojans simply don’t score (I’m aware of the innate pun here but there’s no other way to put it). KO’s squad is amongst the slowest and lowest scoring teams in the nation, averaging just 60.5 possessions per forty minutes and 54.5 ppg. The good news is everyone already knows the Kappa Omega’s (KO = Kevin O’Neill’s) don’t throw a good party (they all go to the Lamda Kappa/LK/Lane Kiffin parties) and just 3,838 attendees are averaged in the Galen Center. Ultimately, Fox Sports finally got one right and this one won’t even be aired. So really my advice is just don’t go to Watts for a 7:30 tip.
Something to Prove: The Oregon State Beavers waltzed into conference play looking pretty, pretty, pretty good. A two loss team with the conference’s marquee win 🙁 over Texas, the First Team had momentum and appeared poised to get rowdy. They were promptly swept, convincingly, by the Washington schools to kick off their conference season. If Craig Robinson wants to A) prove his worth as a coach B) avoid a campaign job, and C) actually finish with a +.500 conference record for the first time since unknown, he and his team need to hold serve this weekend. Not only are these two games they need to win, but it will go a long way in asserting themselves as legit contenders. Sure, the Bay Area schools are the toughest visitor/road trip in the conference this year, but in this down season, winning at home is vital. The Beavers missed their shot at stealing a road game in Pullman and frankly have a pretty tough start to their conference schedule. But no more excuses. Is it Beaver time or could this early weekend spoil any hopes of post-season play? I also can’t get over the fact that no one outside of Corvallis, Oregon (CORVALLIS, OREGON) will get to watch Jorge Gutierrez and Jared Cunningham. Outrageous.
Something to lose: Washington was last week’s team du jour, convincingly sweeping the Oregon schools at home. Standout freshman, Tony Wroten Jr. called their 19 point loss to South Dakota State as the needed “wake-up call” for this team. Wroten certainly awoke last week, going off for 22/7/5 in the sweep and being named the POW. But where’s Terrence Ross? Can Wroten carry this team? Could a Lorenzo Romar team conjure up some consistency? Still many questions here as UW heads to the Rockies – the first team to be hosted there in conference play – for a trap weekend. Washington should roll through these matchups, particularly Utah, but the Colorado game concerns me. Tad Boyle doesn’t have an atrocious team in Boulder and should the Huskies overlook this group, it would go a long way in legitimizing everyone’s concerns about UW.
Weekend YouTuber: My roommate wound up partying (true story) with this sweet angel on New Years. You should, like such as, enjoy and recall that the original objective of the Pac-10 was to be the “Ivy League of the West.”