This Week In The Pac-12: Whatever, Football, I'm Over You

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

I just can't talk about football any more. Proving once again that rooting for UCLA or USC always results in pain, Stanford beat the Bruins and insured an all-evil Pac-12 championship game. Even Wazzu knocking off the Huskies can't warm the cockles of my barren heart. It's basketball season, baby.

When we last surveyed the Pac-12, it had been a pretty darn good week for the punching bag of big time basketball conferences:

The conference is still a ways away from the heydays of 2008 and 2009, but teams are winning tough games and dropping fewer easy games - two issues that plagued pretty much everybody last year.

One week later? Well, let's take a quick run through what was a very busy week:

Good wins

UCLA 60, Georgia 56
USC 59, Texas 53
Stanford 66, North Iowa 50
Cal 68, Georgia Tech 57
Oregon 83, UNLV 79
Oregon State 66, Purdue 58
Arizona State 83, Arkansas 68

Bad losses

Cal Poly 70, UCLA 68

Missed Opportunities

Missouri 78, Stanford 70
Minnesota 66, Stanford 63
Georgetown 78, UCLA 70
Marquette 72, USC 64
San Diego State 66, USC 60
Cincinnati 77, Oregon 66
Creighton 87, Arizona State 73
Ohio State 77, Washington 66
Colorado State 73, Washington 55
Kansas 78, Washington State 41
Texas A&M 55, Washington State 54

All in all, completely acceptable. True, some of the 'good wins' are being generous. But last week's message is just as true this week: Our conference mates are almost entirely avoiding bad losses and picking up enough good wins to keep the conference on very competitive footing nationally. Hell, even Utah, USC and ASU, computer anvils last year, are generally providing positive (or at least neutral) contributions.

True, some of the margins of defeat are concerning - I'm looking at you, Washington - but since that doesn't really matter, who care?

It's also worth noting that, as a general rule, teams have put together tougher non-conference schedules, which almost by default result in better computer numbers. Playing more games against tougher teams means more opportunities for good wins and fewer opportunities for embarrassing results. Hopefully everybody has learned a lesson from the last two seasons about how important putting together a solid non-conference schedule is.

Of course, everything isn't entirely hunky-dory out west . . .

For those that still had hope for the season like me, you'll probably understand the deep seated anger over this and why there's just not much reason to expound further on the game.

And hope for the rest of the season isn't high:

Ben called his players "unathletic," which is rather amusing (and kind of unbelievable) after all the hype he built up around his "number 1 recruiting class. He then said that the team will need to play zone, which of course is repeat of the same song and dance of last four seasons when he brought an unathletic team into regular season without having them practice zone.

And Howland continues to hemmorage players:

While Lamb's leaving does not affect the rotation per se, it is a bad sign for a number of reasons, including:

  • UCLA only has nine scholarship players. Not even enough for five on five during practice.
  • Each of the last few years I've predicted some level of improved play from UCLA based on the assumption that Howland was in fact a good coach - that a guy who rebuilt UCLA so quickly must have some idea of what he was doing. Each year I was wrong. It's time to start learning from the past. Either Shabazz is the 2nd coming, and Howland gives him free reign to pillage his way through the conference, or UCLA seems destined for 5th or 6th place finish . . . again.

    Next Week

    Some game in Palo Alto grumble grumble

    Monday
    None

    Tuesday
    Texas Southern at Colorado

    Wednesday
    Arkansas Pine-Bluff at Arizona State
    Utah at SMU
    Northern Arizona at Arizona
    Seattle at Stanford
    Idaho at Washington State
    CS Northridge at UCLA
    St. Louis at Washington

    Thursday
    Texas-San Antonio at Oregon

    Friday
    Kansas at Oregon State, ESPN3
    Utah at Texas State

    Saturday
    Arkansas Pine-Bluff at Oregon
    Arizona at Texas Tech, ESPNU
    Sacramento State at Arizona State
    San Diego State at UCLA, ESPNU
    Colorado at Wyoming, ROOT
    Portland at Washington State

    Sunday
    Cal at Wisconsin, Big-10 Network
    Denver at Stanford
    CSU Fullerton at Washington

    Unless otherwise noted, all games will be televised on the Pac-12 Network, with the exception of Utah's strange small school Texas road trip, which will be televised by nobody. After a grueling week of tough pre-season tournaments, the vast majority of the conference heads back home to take on victory fodder in friendly confines. Heck, USC decided to take the entire week off! The exceptions:

    St. Louis at Washington
    Kansas at Oregon State
    Arizona at Texas Tech
    San Diego State at UCLA
    Colorado at Wyoming
    Cal at Wisconsin

    Arizona really should handle a weak Texas Tech team, but it's a major conference school on the road so we'll put it in a different category than Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Ditto Colorado at Wyoming. The big games involve St. Louis, Kansas, San Diego State and Wisconsin. And to be honest, it wouldn't shock me at all to see the conference lose all four games. UCLA and Washington are both messes, Kansas is Kansas, and Wisconsin is plenty tough away from home, let alone in Madison.

    The real hope is that nobody loses unexpectedly. And if Utah could pick up a road win or two, that would be swell.

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