This Week In The Pac-12: Contenders Cruise, Plus Desert Surprises

Looking for more breakdown about how Cal football is destined for 15 years of 3-9 seasons because attracting recruits to a premier public school in a major metropolitan area is clearly only possible for the select few assistant coaches? Sorry, it's not football season right now, and at this moment Cal has one basketball team tied for first place in the Pac-12 and another alone in third. Stop wallowing in self-pity and start smelling the beautiful flowers right in front of you.

The major story line out west this week was continued success from Cal, Stanford and Washington. The three teams with just one conference loss apiece combined to go 5-0 this weekend. Cal had to survive an off shooting night against the Buffs, Stanford bizarrely struggled with Utah and Washington had to come back from a 10 point second half deficit. But wins are wins and style points are meaningless this season - just ask Oregon State!

Beyond the top three, there seems to be a divide between the top seven teams (Cal, Stanford, Washington, Oregon, UCLA, Arizona, Colorado) and the bottom five (Washington St., Oregon St., Arizona St., Utah, USC). After three weeks teams from the bottom five have a combined record of 1-15 against teams from the top seven. Yes Cal fans, you've likely already figured out that Oregon St.'s win over Cal is that '1'. College sports are weird.

Because last week was mostly chalk, this week is full of important match-ups between teams that still fancy themselves title contenders. We will have a much clearer picture of who has a chance and what each team needs to do. But for now just tune in on Thursday and Saturday and try to keep up. A down conference isn't a boring conference!

Team of the Week: Oregon

Oregon picked up easily the most impressive win of the season by defeating the Wildcats at McHale Center in Tucson. It's the first home conference loss for Arizona since 2010, and coupled with a win over ASU the Ducks moved to just a game out of first place in the conference. Oregon has survived perhaps the toughest stretch of their schedule with a record of 4-2, and are now positioned reasonably well to stay towards the top of the standings. Imagine what they'd do with a contributing Jabari Brown!

Disappointment of the Week: Oregon State

On one hand, Oregon St. certainly seems unlucky. They've beaten Cal, as good an indication of legitimacy as any. That and taking fellow contenders Arizona and Stanford into overtime indicates that the Beavers can compete with anybody. But they already had a surprising defeat to Washington St., and now you can add a surprise loss to ASU.

Craig Robinson's decision to speed up his offense has resulted in easily the best attack since his arrival in Corvallis. But his decision to move towards man-to-man defense hasn't result in a similar improvement in the defense, and as a result the Beavers are giving up points faster than the offense can score them. A season that looked promising is almost certainly over as OSU sits at 1-5, four games out of first place already.

Player of the Week: Terrence Ross

In a week generally devoid of eye-catching offensive performances, Ross earns the title for dropping 30 points on Washington St., including 26 in the 2nd half when it looked like Washington's season was slipping away. Major concerns certainly linger after the Huskies shockingly struggled with Utah and Seattle, but Washington looks much, much scarier with Ross playing like many expected he was capable of.

Honorable mention: Harper Kamp and Devoe Joseph, for leading their teams to important sweeps

Game of the Week: Oregon 59, Arizona 57

Early in the 2nd half Oregon lead 41-24, having generally shut down the Wildcats for 23 minutes. Then Arizona started hitting 3s and the Wildcats came all the way back to take the lead, 56-54. They would score just 1 point over the last three minutes of the game, and Addicted To Quack appreciates that the Ducks didn't collapse in the face of adversity:

If there is one difference between Oregon teams under Dana Altman, and Oregon teams under Ernie Kent, they don't fall apart . . . But against Arizona, the Ducks never gave up. They didn't get out of their gameplan, and they continued to play excellent defense.

Next Week

Thursday
Arizona St. at Colorado, 6:30
Arizona at Utah, 6:30
California at Washington, 6:30
USC at Oregon, 6:30
Stanford at Washington St., 7:00
UCLA at Oregon St., 7:30

Saturday
UCLA at Oregon, 1:00
Arizona St. at Utah, 2:00
Arizona at Colorado, 3:00
Stanford at Washington, 3:00
California at Washington St., 3:00
USC at Oregon St., 7:30

At 7:45 Pacific time on Thursday night, all 12 teams will be on the court. at 3:30 Pacific time on Saturday afternoon 8 teams will be on the court. The lesson: it's impossible to see everything this week. Sigh. My quick glance at Bay Area programming indicates to me that I'll be able to watch only UCLA at Oregon St. (ugh) on Thursday, and UCLA at Oregon (ugh!) plus Stanford at Washington (UGH!) on Saturday.

At least two of those games involve teams from the top half of the standings, but none of them are Cal. Stanford at Washington is easily the most interesting, but that will happen at the same time as you're trying to follow Roxy and Todd on Cal radio.

Let's focus on the positive - there are four games between teams within a game and a half of the top of the conference. How legit is Washington's 4-1 record? Will UCLA continue their recent run of success, or will it be Oregon instead? After tough losses, will Arizona or Colorado bounce back? And you know that somebody is going to lose to WSU or USC or OSU . . . but who? Turn on your TV Boot up gametracker to find out!

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