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PAC-10 in Review

TheHighPosts.com recently visited the University of California’s Haas Pavilion, where the Cal Golden Bears hosted the UCLA Bruins in a nationally televised game that held many implications as the PAC-10 quickly approaches. Cal came into the game 16-1 at home and the Bruins needed a win to stay in contention for their fourth-straight PAC-10 title.

Cal controlled the tempo for most of the first half, but behind Darren Collison’s 16 second-half points, the Bruins were able to hold off the Bears late, winning 72-68. More importantly, the Bruins were able to secure sole possession of second place in the PAC-10 and are still in the hunt for a share of the conference title. In order to do that, UCLA must knock off Oregon and Oregon State at Pauley Pavilion next weekend while hoping Washington State knocks off the Huskies. Even still, the Bruins recognize the real: the PAC-10 title is nice, but really, it’s all about the Big Dance in late March.

With that in mind, TheHighPosts has formed a PAC-10 breakdown that gives a quick analysis of where the teams stand as the PAC-10 conference quickly approaches March 11-14.

1. Washington
There is no doubt that the Washington Huskies (23-7, 13-4 conf) have been taking care of business on the hardwood this season. The Huskies did drop two games to Cal this season, as well as to UCLA, but they remain the PAC-10 front runners with a sweep of the Arizona schools this past weekend. It should be an interesting ride for Coach Lorenzo Romar as Selection Sunday nears.

2. UCLA
The Almighty Bruins (22-7, 11-5 conf.)  have played consistent UCLA basketball most of the season, but some key conference losses in February to the Arizona schools as well as the bizarre ending to the Washington State game made it more challenging for the Bruins to claim their fourth-straight conference title. A strong finish in the regular season is all the Bruins need. Their experience should propel them ahead of the rest of the pack moving into the conference tournament.

3. Arizona State
The Sun Devils (21-7, 10-6 conf) have fared well against conference schools, with the exception of key losses Washington and Washington State both times they played the two teams. They have been able to walk away with wins in games against UCLA and Cal, but if ASU hopes to make some noise down the stretch, they are going to have to be able to close games late.

4. Cal
The Cal Bears (21-8, 10-6 conf) on paper are a strong matchup but it seems that something gets lost in translation too often with this team. They have played brilliantly in stretches, but key losses to USC, Oregon State, and Stanford this season have exposed this team’s vulnerabilities. The Bears need a great showing in the PAC-10 conference if they hope of getting a whiff of the Big Dance.

5. Arizona
This year, the Arizona Wildcats (18-11, 8-8 conf) have undergone a complete identity crisis. The Lute Olsen era is clearly over, but where do the Wildcats go from here? That is a question that is still begging to be answered. And with an NCAA investigation now looking overhead, it seems like Arizona’s focus is on making it out of this season without further incident.

6. Washington State
Washington State Cougars (16-13, 8-9 conf) have been an enigma to say the least, particulary in conference play. At times they have looked in need of direction (i.e. losses to USC, Stanford) while lately they have been able to turn the tide, capturing key victories against UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State. Look for the Cougars to be the x-factor in the PAC-10, a team very capable of knocking off top-seeded opponents.

7. USC
Oh what a difference a year makes. USC (16-12, 7-9 conf) started off conference play rather strong, stringing together early wins against Arizona State, Arizona, Cal and Washington. But then, it seems like the bottom fell out, exposing Coach Tim Floyd. The Trojans have been 1-6 with two games remaining on the schedule. They need to piece something together, and quickly, less suffer a quick exit in the counference tournament.

8. Oregon State
The numbers don’t lie. The Oregeon State Beavers  (13-14, 7-9 conf) have made an improvement under Coach Craig Robinson. They strung together some key victories early on, not to mention that they knocked off Cal last week. They have to finish the regular season on the road at USC and UCLA, so it remains to be seen if they will have anything left in the tank to make any noise in the conference tournament. Key recruits should improve this program in 2009-2010 season.

9. Stanford
It has been a tough debut for first-year coach Johnny Dawkins and the Stanford Cardinals (16-11, 5-11 conf). The team was certainly in rebuilding mode this year after losing the Lopez twins. They earned key victories against Cal and Washington State early in PAC-10 play, but clearly they are aiming for just to stand ground in the conference tourney, in hopes of building momentum for next year.

10. Oregon
All the Nike money in the world is not helping the Oregon Ducks (8-20, 2-14 conf.) win basketball games. After consecutive losses in PAC-10 play this season, the Ducks were able to piece something resembling an effective game plan and won their last two games against Stanford and Oregon State. They finish their season against USC and UCLA, and it is very likely they will be one-and-done when the conference tournament starts next week.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 5th, 2009 at 11:42 pm and is filed under ARTICLES, College Basketball. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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