In the first week of conference play it was almost entirely chalk. The teams that would be favored on a neutral court happened to all be at home, and as a result Cal, Stanford, Washington, Arizona and Colorado all finished the week undefeated. The only upset was the very mild surprise of Washington State's home win over Oregon State.
And then Thursday happened. The Beavers upset the Bears, UCLA knocked off Arizona, Colorado shockingly dominated Washington, Oregon held of Stanford . . . and UTAH won a game. And arguably the most shocking development was that Arizona St. suspended three players, then became the only road team to win a game that night. MADNESS!
At that point 16 conference games had been played, with only two road wins, inspiring people to seriously suggest that 10 or 11 wins would be enough to win a parity filled conference. Four road wins on Saturday and Sunday should end talk like that, but the lesson was driven home anyway: even (especially?) in a down year road wins are tough to earn.
Team of the Week: Colorado
When the Buffs destroyed Utah, most observers shrugged their shoulders and assumed the final score was another example of how horrible the Utes are this year. But Colorado's big win over Washington and subsequent easy win over Washington St. perhaps signal that the Buffs are a year ahead of schedule on their rebuilding plan.
Honorable mention: Yes, UCLA, we noticed that you beat Arizona rather soundly, and without Josh Smith. Evidently UCLA gets better every time you take away a pre-season all-conference post player.
Disappointment of the Week: Washington State
In retrospect, this was how Utah was going to win a game. It would be against one of the four or five worst teams in the league, it would be at home, and it would still be improbable. So sure enough, Utah managed to come back from a late 6 point deficit to force overtime, where they prevailed, 62-60. For Utah to win it takes overtime against a bad opponents playing on the road, plus goofy things like the Cougars missing 12 free throws. Seriously, 10 for 22?!?
Honorable mention: Just because Wazzu is hogging the limelight doesn't mean I didn't see what you did, Trojans. Arizona St. was awful BEFORE they suspended three players, including two starters. And you still lost to them, at home, by nine. For shame!
Player of the Week: Jorge Gutierrez
Lots of good candidates this week - Jorge and Allen Crabbe both had excellent nights for the Bears, Devoe Joseph almost single-handedly beat Stanford, Carlton Brown compiled 46 points over the week, and Travis Wear broke out against the Arizona schools. We're giving it to Jorge for being the only player keeping Cal in it against Oregon St., then doing the same thing against Oregon but with more help. Sorry, Mr. Brown, you might've won but we're trying to avoid one team winning multiple weekly awards.
Besides, we here at CGB look for any excuse to talk about Mr. Gutierrez, who is one of just two players to be in the top 10 in the conference in both points and assists per game. HIP HIP!
Game of the Week: Stanford 103, Oregon St. 101
Stanford isn't usually the team you'd peg to break 100, but they only needed an extra 20 minutes to do it. Frankly, I'm not sure how Stanford won this game. By the time they reached the 59th minute of the game three different Cardinal starters had fouled out. They also got outrebounded, shot a lower FG% and less free throws. But they made 13 threes and Jared Cunningham had a miserable shooting night, so I suppose it all evens out.
Seattle at Washington, 7:00
Oregon St. at Arizona, 6:30
Utah at Stanford, 7:00
Oregon at Arizona St., 7:30
Colorado at Cal, 8:00
Oregon at Arizona, 12:30, CBS
Colorado at Stanford, 1:00
Oregon St. at Arizona St., 3:00
Utah at Cal, 7:30
Washington St. at Washington, 4:00
UCLA at USC, 6:00
Once Washington finishes up their meaningless RPI killer on Tuesday, conference play resumes with the Arizona schools hosting the Oregon schools and the mountain schools visiting the Bay. Colorado's two games with Cal and Stanford are the big games of the weekend, and if the Buffs can even earn a split it will go a long way to legitimizing their reputation across the league.
Oregon St. still scares me, even if they sit tied for 10th in the conference at 1-3. A big road win over Arizona would be a huge boost for them. That's really the only other game worth watching, unless UCLA struggles at the Galen Center, which would not surprise me in the least.
TV-wise, only Oregon/Arizona is nationally televised, but all four Cal/Stanford vs. Colorado/Utah games will air locally in Northern California, in addition to UCLA at USC. Plenty of opportunities to attach yourself to the couch this week. Hooray?