Pac-10 Hoops Preview

Hello Followers. Hope you all have had a great holiday week and are ready to REALLY bring in the New Year!!!

First off, before we get to basketball, how about those Arizona Mildcats??????

Don’t know about you all, but after watching a bit of the 33-0 BLUDGEONING that the Cats took at the hands of the BIG CORN COB known as Nebraska, I really started to wonder about the strength of the conference.

When you consider that Oregon got REALLY good right after their non-conference slate (losing to Boise State and then nipping Purdon’t and Utah at home), then maybe the signs were there that the conference, though wonderfully balanced, wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be????

One thing is for sure, we’ll find out a lot after the Rose Bowl on Friday.

Now, onto Hoops.

Followers, let me be the first to admit that I am completely enamored by our little Cougies. At this point, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, would mean more to me to see than our boys taste a bit of March Madness this spring. For that reason, it was nearly impossible for me to take my “homer” hat off when formulating my predictions for this upcoming season.

So, in an effort to “keep it real,” I decided to use a crude methodology: Look at our won-loss total from each series last year, and use that as a basis to evaluate how much, if any, we might improve. Then, to fill out the conference slate, I did roughly the same for every other team in the conference. The results, in much abbreviated form, follow.

I. Our fortunes

Last year, our Cougies went 8-10 in conference. As I noted last week, we’ll have to get to 12-6 to ensure a ticket to the dance.

Here’s how we did in each series followed by my prediction for this year:

A. The Arizona schools. Last year, we went 3-1, sweeping ASU and splitting with the mildcats. This year, I see us going a whopping 4-0. The reason: Last year, we beat Arizona the second time around as Capers SWARMED Nicky Wise. This year, I expect Capers to do the same. The road game at ASU in week two will be tough, but if you recall, Klay ate that match-up zone alive last year. Here’s to thinking he, our Nick, Moore, and Lodwick will do the same. Gain: +1

B. The Bay Area Schools. Last year, we went 1-3. We nipped Stanford at home, lost two close games to CAL, and then got whooped again in Maples. This year, I see us going, gulp, 1-3. Last year we played with CAL because they had no matchup for Mr. Baynes.

This year, we have no Baynes. But they have everyone back. Meanwhile, count me in as a guy that believes that any team that has Fields is no cellar dwellar. Gain: ZERO.

C. The LA schools. Last year, we went 1-3 nipping UCLA in Pauley, losing a hearbreaker at home, and then lost to USC twice. This year, USC looks like they are a top 3 crasher a la Stanford in 07-08. While others want to write off UCLA, I am not ready to think that they are a pushover. USC in Pullman looks like a possible win, but you have to wonder where our legs will be come February. All in all, I see us going 2-2 against this group. Gain: +1.

D. The Oregon Schools. Last year, we went 3-1, losing a NCAA tourney buster to Oregon State. This year, both Oregon schools will have the ability to beat us on any given night, as well as sneak one by us. If you want to find games on the schedule to circle as must wins, you have them here. My sense, they’re not very good and we’re JUST versatile enough to go 4-0. Gain: +1.

E. Warshington. Last year, we went 0-2, got blown out at home and lost a very competitive game in Seattle because Klay got in foul trouble. This year, you have to give us a chance in Pullman, particularly if Thomas and Overton continue to struggle from the outside. But in Seattle? Think Kansas State game squared. Ultimately, I think they’re just better–just like we were for the better part of three years. Gain: Zero.

So, for us, that amounts to an 11-7 conference record. And even that feels a bit liberal to me.

Ultimately, that sets us up for a return trip the NIT. Not bad, but not what I want for us at this point either. Now, the conference.

1. Warshington. Lots of depth, lots of confidence. The only consolation I have with them winning is the solace I take that, once again, they won’t beat CAL. And once again, they’ll fall early in the NCAA’s.

2. CAL. So much to like. So much talent. So much offense. It will make you wonder how in the world they didn’t win the conference. But, I still see too much dependence on Randall’s shooting for my liking.

3. USC. This team has all the makings of a darkhorse that could steal the title. The question: where will their heads be at if they lose some close early games–especially to teams like the Cougs?

4. Washington State. Its going to be a log jammed middle this year. Cougs take the 4th spot by sweeping the 5th place team.

5. Arizona State. Such a popular pick to finish in the top 3 because of that damn match-up zone. But, even if you don’t score a lot of points (which the Devils don’t), you’ve got to find someone to score, especially down low.  Here’s to thinking that, in conference, they’ll get figured out in the second half of conference play (JUST like last year).

6. Stanford. I know this may be reach, but Stanford has two guys that can consistently put the ball in the hole. 7-11 gets sixth this year. And the trees have lucky 7 written all over them.

6. Arizona. Sean Miller is a helluva coach. And Arizona figures to be really good in the next year or two. But this team is going to struggle to find itself after the first two weekends.

6. UCLA. Each day I think that UCLA is going to put it together, and then they don’t. In spite of finishing in the bottom half of the league, I think that they will be in nearly all of their games. While the losses from the past two years will kill the Bruins this year, here’s a dude to look out for: Brandon Lane.

9. Oregon State. Yuck. Most dissapointing team in America. Nuff said.

10. Oregon. Ernie Kent is the first to sign up to lead Dennis Erickson’s self help group for fired coaches.

So, there you have it. Please chime in with your thoughts. And if you want a prediction on tonight’s game you have it below.

Cougs 81 Oregon 73.

Happy New Year.