The Washington Huskies weren’t exactly the best team in the nation in the 2012-13 college basketball season, but at least they will have a pretty good recruiting class coming in for the new season, which is highlighted by a 5-star recruit. That highly rated recruit is Nigel Williams-Gross and he is the No. 19 rated [...]
Washington Huskies’ Martin Breunig will be transferring to Montana, according to NBCSports.com. Although this is not the biggest news in college basketball over the offseason, it is still news and I am sure that Montana is excited about its new player. However, it is hard to tell how Breunig will do for the team, [...]
C.J. Wilcox has announced that he will bypass an opportunity to enter the 2013 NBA Draft and he will he return for his senior year with the Washington Huskies. Wilcox was projected to be a late first round or early second round pick in the draft, so returning was probably a wise choice, as he [...]
According to Seattle Times reporter Percey Allen via Twitter, Washington Huskies guard C.J. Wilcox will return for his senior season and has told the university of his decision: C.J. Wilcox tells Washington he’s returning for his senior season. — Percy Allen (@percyallen) April 18, 2013 Wilcox’s return will come as a seismic relief for Washington as they are retaining their leading scorer and undoubted team [...]
The sky was seemingly the limit for UNLV forward Mike Moser following the 2012-13 season. Moser was widely-regarded as a first round NBA Draft selection, but the 6-foot-8 forward made the decision to return to school for his junior season. While incoming freshman Anthony Bennett stole the headlines in the paint, Moser dealt with an [...]
It has been a busy past couple of days for the Washington Huskies. Following UCLA‘s decision to fire Ben Howland over the weekend, head coach Lorenzo Romar instantly had his name linked to that vacancy. Romar said that he has not been contacted about the opening and in fact is comfortable at Washington. So we [...]
The Washington Huskies have shown the capability to make a run at the Pac-12 Conference Tournament championship all season long, though they have struggled to find consistency. With leading scorer C.J. Wilcox in the midst of a bad cold and still wearing a walking boot, those chances seem to have evaporated. Despite struggling to walk–and breathe, for that matter, [...]
When: Wednesday (first round); Thursday (quarterfinals); Friday (semifinals); Saturday (championship) Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Storylines: This may be the most wide open conference tournament out of any in the entire country. Are the top teams some of the best teams in the country? Probably not, but there are at least nine [...]
Cal Still Rolling
At this point there is no denying the fact that Cal is playing the best basketball in the Pac 12. They have won six straight games to vault back into the top four teams in the conference and they have the inside track at a first round bye later this month during the conference tournament.
Compared to the rest of the teams in the conference the Bears are playing a step ahead of all others.
Arizona has faltered recently, losing games that they really shouldn’t and their confidence seems to be wavering a bit. Oregon finally saw injured guard Dominic Artis make his return to the lineup last night and it should give them a spark to finish out the season. UCLA is quietly hanging around and they could have a shot to secure at least a share of the regular season conference championship. And finally Colorado could make the case as the second-hottest, if not the hottest, team in the conference with their play of late.
After having a jumbled group of teams in the middle of the standings things are starting to pan out a bit with teams separating from the pack. Most of the grouping now is right at the top with three teams within one game of first place behind Oregon. This weekend’s games, followed by next week’s contests, shall be very intense and full of intrigue.
Just the games on Saturday should make Pac 12 fans giddy with excitement as Arizona visits UCLA, Cal hosts Colorado in a matchup of two of the streaking teams in the conference and Arizona State and USC do battle to try and keep their small NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
So without further ado, here’s how the Pac 12 stacks up in week 17.
12. Washington State Cougars
Record: 11-17 (2-13)
Last Week: L 73-56 at No. 12 Arizona
Washington State is basically just playing out the season at this point with nothing really to play for besides pride. They have lost eight games in a row but they do get a rematch with in-state rival Washington coming up next, practically the only winnable game remaining on their schedule. Records don’t matter in rivalry games, the Cougars only lost by five in their last meeting earlier this year, so it should be a chance for WSU to scratch out one more win on the season.
This week: Mar 3 at Washington, Mar 6 vs. UCLA
11. Utah Utes
Record: 11-16 (3-12)
Last week: L 64-46 at Cal
Give Utah credit, most of their losses this season have come by a small margin and you can tell that they are close to turning the corner. They rant into the buzz saw that is Cal last night and got blown out but they did play well early on. They are playing a lot of young players and that will only help them moving forward into next season. They still have a chance to cause some problems for their final three opponents and whomever they face in the conference tournament.
This week: Mar 3 at Stanford, Mar 7 vs. Oregon State
10. Oregon State Beavers
Record: 13-16 (3-13)
Last week: L 60-59 vs. Cal, L 85-75 at Oregon
Oregon State has a lot of talent to be this far down in the Pac 12 standings but that is how the season has played out for them. They almost knocked off a red hot Cal team and they were up on their rival last night before a momentum shift turned their fortunes in the wrong direction. It’s hard to fathom why they only have three conference wins but they have a chance to earn at least one more when they take on Utah next week.
This week: Mar 7 at Utah
9. Washington Huskies
Record: 15-13 (7-8)
Last week: W 68-59 at Arizona State
The Huskies actually played well against Arizona State on the road and beat the Sun Devils in Tempe, which is not a particularly easy thing to do. They have an opportunity to end their season on a high note as their final three games are all at home. First up is their rival Washington State and it seemingly should be a relatively easy game for them to win.
This week: Mar 3 vs. Washington State, Mar 6 vs. USC
8. Stanford Cardinal
Record: 16-13 (7-9)
Last week: L 77-66 at No. 23 Oregon, L 65-63 vs. Colorado
The Cardinal are now losers of four of their last five games with the lone win coming over basement dweller Oregon State. They had a chance to move up in the standings but instead they are trending down. It was a tough loss for them last night against Colorado as they were up on the Buffs by double digits at two different points in the game. Stanford should beat Utah this weekend and then they close out their season against Cal.
This week: Mar 3 vs. Utah, Mar 6 at Cal
7. USC Trojans
Record: 13-15 (8-7)
Last week: L 75-59 vs. UCLA, W 89-78 vs. No. 11 Arizona
USC’s overall record is scarred with a slew of non-conference losses but in reality they have been playing solid basketball. They are 5-2 in their last seven games, buoyed by interim head coach Bob Cantu. I’m pretty sure that the interim tag should be removed from Cantu’s name shortly but who knows if USC wants to go after a bigger name hire. Cantu deserves the position and if he’s overlooked it would be a shame because he deserves the promotion for the turnaround he’s led in LA.
This week: Mar 2 vs. Arizona State, Mar 6 at Washington
6. Arizona State Sun Devils
Record: 20-9 (9-7)
Last week: L 68-59 vs. Washington, L 79-74 OT at UCLA
Arizona State let a prime opportunity to try and secure a top-four finish, including a first round bye in Vegas, by losing both of their games last week. The loss to Washington hurts but the UCLA loss may be more costly to their postseason hopes. It could have boosted their resume but instead adds another loss. Their final two games are not easy either as they take on an on-the-rise USC team and then finish the regular season against hated rival Arizona.
This week: Mar 2 at USC
5. Colorado Buffaloes
Record: 19-8 (9-6)
Last week: W 65-63 at Stanford
Colorado secured a big road win Wednesday night over Stanford and it sets them up for a strong finish. The Buffs still have a shot at a top four finish in the league depending on how they do in their final three games, two of which are against the top two teams in the conference. A positive sign for Colorado is their improved play on the road as they have won their last three road contests. The players are starting to gain some confidence outside of Boulder and that will be put to the test against Cal on Saturday. This is arguably Colorado’s most important game of the season and it’s a chance for them to make a serious statement if they can come away with another road victory.
This week: Mar 2 at Cal, Mar 7 vs. No. 24 Oregon
4. Arizona Wildcats
Record: 23-5 (11-5)
Last week: W 73-56 vs. Washington State, L 89-78 at USC
Arizona is slowly seeing their chances at a Pac 12 regular season championship slip away. All five of their losses have come against fellow conference foes and recently it seems that the Wildcats have lost some confidence and started to play too conservative. Their vaunted freshman class has not progressed as quickly as they have needed to and it’s beginning to show down the stretch. Arizona is still one of the most talented teams in the league but they aren’t really playing like it right now.
This week: Mar 2 at UCLA
3. UCLA Bruins
Record: 21-7 (11-4)
Last week: W 75-59 at USC, W 79-74 OT vs. Arizona State
UCLA is quietly moving back up the Pac 12 standings and they have a legitimate shot at the regular season conference championship. For all of the flack Ben Howland gets on a daily basis you have to acknowledge the work he’s done to progress his star freshmen. They have been playing better each game and they have put the Bruins in a prime position capture at least a share of the regular season title. Arguably their biggest game of the season is Saturday night as they have a rematch with Arizona, a team they already beat once earlier this season.
This week: Mar 2 vs. Arizona, Mar 6 at Washington State
2. Oregon Ducks
Record: 23-6 (12-4)
Last week: W 77-66 vs. Stanford, W 85-75 vs. Oregon State
The Ducks got a big boost with the return of Dominic Artis and it should strengthen their play down the final stretch of the season. After struggling to put away rival Oregon State at home the Ducks can take it easy this weekend and watch how the rest of the conference plays out. Good thing for them is that they have almost an entire week to prepare for their huge game at Colorado next Thursday. A win at Colorado would almost certainly put them in prime position to win the regular season championship.
This week: Mar 7 at Colorado
1. Cal Bears
Record: 19-9 (11-5)
Last week: W 60-59 at Oregon State, W 64-46 vs. Utah
Since January 30 the Bears are tied for a Pac 12 best 8-1, including winners of six straight. A lot of those games have come by a small margin but they have also come against the other top teams in the conference. Two wins over Oregon, one over UCLA and one over Arizona proves that they can compete and beat any team in the conference. Their next challenge? Colorado comes in to town on Saturday and the Buffs are one of the only teams in the conference that beat Cal handily this season. It should be one of the better games of the conference season and it has major postseason implications for both teams.
This week: Mar 2 vs. Colorado, Mar 6 vs. Stanford
Tonight’s game is a rematch between PAC-12 Conference opponents, and features two of the most prolific scorers on the west coast. The first time they met, the Washington Huskies earned the victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils through a significant advantage on the boards. Their prior matchup was one of the most exciting games of the PAC-12 slate, as the teams combined to score 188 points in regulation. Since their first meeting on February 2nd, both teams have struggled mightily. Washington’s victory against ASU was one of the lone bright spots over the last month, as the Huskies have dropped eight of their last 10, including five straight road games. After going 17-4 over the first 21 games of the season, the Sun Devils have lost three of their last six. Check out the breakdown of each team, and the major themes that will decide this game:
Washington Huskies (14-13, 6-8 PAC-12)
After starting out 4-0 in PAC-12 conference play, the Huskies have been one of the worst teams in the conference over the past month. Coming into tonight’s rematch with Arizona State, Washington has lost eight of its last 10 games, and is currently 9th in the PAC-12 standings. The poor play of Washington’s star, CJ Wilcox, has been the main catalyst for the Huskies recent struggles. Known as one of the premier shooters in the country, Wilcox has shot just 26.9 percent from behind the arc over his last nine games. Offensively, the Huskies have been mediocre at best this season. They are statistically the worst three-point shooting team in the conference, and are 2nd in turnovers per game. However, Washington makes up for its lack of skill with an ability to dominate on the boards. Washington is currently the 2nd best rebounding team in the conference, and is 1st in offensive rebounds per game. The Huskies are one of the worst defensive teams in the PAC-12, and they are one of three teams in the conference that have an average scoring margin that is negative. Overall, the Huskies are on a five-game road losing streak, and will be looking to turn their season around by pulling the upset.
Star Player: SG CJ Wilcox
SG - #23 CJ Wilcox - 6'5'' 195 - Junior
Stat Line: 35 MPG, 17.5 PPG, 43.6 FG%, 37.1 3PT%, 4.6 RPG, 2 APG, 1 SPG, 1.1 BPG
CJ Wilcox is the most talented three-point shooter in the PAC 12. After knocking down 73 total threes last season, he is currently on track to convert on 77 attempts as a junior, which would be a career-high. The most impressive aspect of Wilcox’s game is that as his usage rate has constantly increased, so has his efficiency. Over the course of his career, Wilcox’s FG percentage and two-point percentage have increased every season. He has also progressed as an all-around player, and is currently averaging career-highs in rebounding, assists and blocks.
Recently, the biggest weakness in Wilcox’s game has been his consistency from behind the arc. He shot 48 of 116 from long-range over Washington’s first 18 games. In the last nine games, he has connected on just 14 of his 52 three-point attempts and is currently undergoing one of the worst shooting slumps of his career.
Strengths: Prolific Scorer, Knock Down Shooter
Weakness: Significant Shooting Slump
Arizona State Sun Devils (20-7, 9-5 PAC-12)
The acceleration and athleticism of redshirt freshman Jahii Carson make the Sun Devils one of the most exciting teams on the west coast. The diminutive point guard has been the biggest surprise in the PAC-12 this season and has put ASU in contention for an NCAA tournament bid. On offense, everything flows through Carson, who is 3rd in the PAC 12 in assists and 4th in the conference in scoring. The Sun Devils rely primarily on the three-point shot, and are 3rd in the PAC-12 in three-pointers made. On the defensive end, the Sun Devils are the best shot-blocking team in the conference and reject 9.1 percent of their opponents’ shots. Center Jordan Bachynski anchors the post, and has developed into one of the best shot-blockers in the country. While the Sun Devils have lost three of their last six games overall, they have won four of their last five home games. In tonight’s game, Arizona State will be looking to avenge its prior loss to the Huskies and continue its winning ways at Wells Fargo Arena.
Star Player: PG Jahii Carson
PG- #1 Jahii Carson - 5’10’’ 175 - Freshman
Stat Line: 36.6 MPG, 17.8 PPG, 46.7 FG%, 31 3PT%, 4.9 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 3.4 TOPG
Carson is the most athletic point guard in the entire PAC 12 conference. At just 5’10”, the diminutive point guard has an explosive vertical, and has made a living by getting to the rim. Carson possesses an excellent handle and his ability to stop and start on a dime makes him a matchup nightmare for opposing teams.
As the primary ball handler for the Sun Devils, Carson has really struggled with his ball security. He is currently leading the PAC 12 in turnovers per game with an average of 3.4. In ASU’s 27 games this season, Carson has turned the ball over three or more times in 19 games. As a scorer, Carson’s biggest weakness is his inclination to settle for shots from the perimeter. Carson has taken 84 shots from three-point range, and has converted only 26 of his attempts.
Strengths: Athleticism, Distributing
Weakness: Ball Security, Streaky Jumper
3 Keys To The Game: #1 - Can Washington Stop Carson?
The major factor in tonight’s game will be Washington’s ability to limit the production and scoring ability of Carson. In the first meeting with the Huskies, Carson dropped 32 points on 13 of 19 shooting from the field, which led all scorers. The Feb. 2 matchup was the catalyst for Carson’s hot streak during the past three weeks. Over the last six games of the season, he has averaged 18.3 points, and has shot 53.2 percent from the floor. The Huskies need to put more pressure on Carson, and constantly double him on the perimeter. If they limit his ability to turn the corner, it will turn Carson into a distributor and force ASU’s auxiliary scorers to step up.
3 Keys To The Game: #2 - Will The Huskies Continue To Dominate The Boards?
The most impressive statistic from the teams’ prior matchup was the rebounding discrepancy. Washington absolutely dominated the glass and outrebounded ASU 33 to 17. In fact, Arizona State had only one offensive rebound the entire game. The Sun Devils need forward Carrick Felix to show up tonight. Felix, ASU’s leading rebounder and 2nd leading scorer, managed just one rebound in the Sun Devils prior meeting with the Huskies. Recently, he has been playing the best basketball of his career. After recording double-doubles in nine of the first 23 games of the season, Felix has had three double-doubles in his last four games. If Arizona State is going to win tonight’s conference matchup, it will need to Felix and Bachynski to make their presence felt on the boards.
3 Keys To The Game: #3 - Can Wilcox Break Out of His Slump?
Wilcox’s prolonged shooting slump has been a major reason for the poor play of the Huskies over the last several weeks. After making a living from behind the perimeter throughout his Washington career, Wilcox has been abysmal from long range over the last seven games of the season. A career 39.2 percent shooter from three-point range, Wilcox has gone eight for 38 over the seven game span. During the past month, Wilcox’s play has proved vital to the overall success of Washington. In the last 12 games, the Huskies are 3-0 when Wilcox shoots 50 percent or higher from the field. Conversely, when he has shot below 50 percent in the last 12 games, Washington has gone just 1-8. The Huskies need to get Wilcox going early and often if they are going to pull out a win tonight.
With the prolonged slump of Wilcox, I expect Carson and Felix to put up big numbers tonight while leading ASU to the win. Washington might have a distinct advantage on the boards, but the Huskies have really struggled in every other facet of the game. Personally, I think that the last meeting between the two teams was an anomaly. Arizona State is the more talented team, and it will show tonight.
Arizona State 70 - Washington 62