Colorado almost blew it. They missed a few free throws, and Kansas kept scoring, and suddenly the game was tied after Colorado seemed to have it wrapped up.
Then Askia Booker, who has been struggling from behind the arc for . . . well, a solid year and a half, I guess, hit the biggest shot of his life on the run to beat the buzzer and the Jayhawks. How did Colorado beat the midwest NBA factory? By working hard on the offensive glass, drawing a bunch of fouls, and hitting juuuuust enough free throws to hold on. Oh yeah, and hitting a buzzer beater. Easy.
The Pac-12 isn't just getting a few decent wins. The conference has been piling up decent wins, and for the first time in five or six years, mixing in elite wins. West Coast basketball is back, even if it took a major assist from those friendly folks way up at altitude.
Last Week in Basketball
UCLA 89, UCSB 76
Colorado 67, Colorado St. 62
Arizona State 78, DePaul 56
Colorado 75, Kansas 72
Utah 90, Fresno State 77
Oregon 115, Mississippi 105
USC 78, Boston College 62
Some of these teams aren't very strong - DePaul, CSU, Boston College and Fresno State are all marginal teams. But they're decently likely to be top 100 RPI wins come March, and a few of them came on the road, which is extra valuable.
(Please stay in the general vicinity of 40-50 in the RPI, UCSB.)
Boise St. 69, Utah 67
UCSB 72, California 65
Missouri 80, UCLA 71
San Diego State 70, Washington 63
Let's talk about Utah, who finally faced two real teams this week. First, they almost pulled the upset over Boise St. Yes, upset. Boise St. is actually pretty good, barely scraping into the NCAA tournament with a controversial at-large bid last year. It's a great sign that Utah a) almost beat BSU on the road and then b) soundly beat a decent Fresno State team at home. Larry Krystkowiak has that team headed slowly in the right direction.
UCLA's first loss of the season is forgivable considering it's on the road to an undefeated Missouri team.
California 73, UC Irvine 56
Arizona 79, Texas Tech 58
Arizona 63, UNLV 58
Washington State 67, Idaho 66
For most teams, beating Texas Tech and UNLV would be a pretty good win. Arizona is being judged differently this year, for obvious reasons. They took care of business. It's also worth noting that UC Irvine is currently just inside the RPI top 100. I'm leaning towards thinking they will eventually fall outside of that group, but it's worth paying attention to down the line.
It's probably a good thing that Oregon State's game against Arkansas Pine Bluff was cancelled due to snow and might not be made up. Just a hit to strength of schedule. It's so weird that college teams are better off just not playing certain games, but it's the reality we live in.
Next Week in Basketball
Idaho State at Utah, 6:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Nevada at California, 8:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
New Mexico State at Arizona, 6:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Elon at Colorado, 5:30, Pac-12 Network
Arizona at Michigan, 9:00 am, CBS
Grambling State at Arizona State, 11:00 am, Pac-12 Network
Idaho State at Washington, 1:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Fresno State at California, 3:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Prairie View A&M at UCLA, 5:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
UC Davis at Stanford, 5:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Illinois at Oregon, 6:00 pm, ESPN2
BYU at Utah, 7:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Maryland Eastern Shore at Oregon State, 3:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Pepperdine at Washington State, 5:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
CSU Bakersfield at USC, 7:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Bummed that football is over? Depressed that you no longer have an excuse to sit on your butt all Saturday? Fear not! Starting at 9:00, it's possible to watch roughly twelve straight hours of Pac-12 basketball without stopping! Sure, it means suffering through Grambling State at Arizona State, but if you were willing to sacrifice for what turned into a 1-11 football season, why not this too?
Nine of the fourteen games on the Pac-12 schedule this week involve teams that are very likely to finish in the bottom 200 of the RPI, so it's a slow week. Most teams are taking it easy as finals draw closer. Cal's schedule is actually a bit tougher than most with two Mountain West squads on tap.
If things go well, only three games should provide much in terms of drama: Arizona's trip to Michigan, Illinois at Oregon, and BYU at Utah. You have to like the conference's chances of taking two of three considering how Michigan has started the year and how weak Illinois's schedule has been. And if Utah can pull the upset in the hard-court-Holy-War, well then all the better.