Pac-12 play starts tonight with Arizona State hosting Utah. It’ll be the conference debut of Jahii Carson (above) and it kicks off what should be the best Pac-12 season in three years. With that said, here’s one man’s guide on the games to keep your eye on this weekend.
Cal at UCLA (Thursday): Get ready for quite a bit of offense here. This game has four of the conference’s leading scorers: Allen Crabbe – No. 1, Shabazz Muhammad – No. 3, Jordan Adams – No. 5, Justin Cobbs – No. 7. Just for good measure, UCLA leads the conference in scoring.
This will be a showdown of two of the favorites to win Pac-12 Player of the Year in Crabbe and Muhammad. Yet as much as I think the Bruins have more depth than the Bears, this game could ride on which team’s big men step up the most. UCLA’s David and Travis Wear or Cal’s Richard Solomon and David Kravish.
Colorado at Arizona (Thursday): This could be an intriguing matchup. As great as Arizona has been this season, Colorado is a tough, physical team and it’s why I mentioned them as the first tough Pac-12 test for the Wildcats. Arizona will probably win but don’t be surprised if this one stays closer than most think.
Colorado at Arizona State (Sunday): Two of the sleeper teams in the conference face off as the Buffaloes’ stellar backcourt of Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker go against ASU’s combo of Carson and Carrick Felix.
The Buffaloes lead the Pac-12 in 3-point shooting but they’ll be challenged to contain Carson, who’ll be playing in his second Pac-12 game. Another reason I like this game is because it has two of the big men in the conference. Colorado junior Andre Roberson, the conference leader in rebounds, against ASU’s Jordan Bachynski, who leads the Pac-12 in blocked shots and is second in field goal percentage.
Oregon at Oregon State (Sunday): The first Civil War meeting of the season and perhaps the first time in several years both teams enter the game with high hopes and great expectations. Both teams are looking to send the other a message that are indeed the state’s best team.
The Beavers are the Pac-12′s best team from 3-point land (40.5% per game) while Oregon leads the conference in steals at nearly 10 per game. The Ducks also lead the conference in offensive rebounds and while the Beavers are right behind them. Something has to give and this should set the table for two great games between the teams.