Before we dive into handing out some first-half-of-the-conference-schedule awards, here's a quick review of last week's action:
- Utah still can't win on the road;
- Washington State (finally healthy) Coug'd the Huskies;
- Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, Cal, UCLA and Oregon all split;
- Oregon State is 4-1 at home and throws the middle of the conference into a big jumble by upsetting UCLA in Corvallis;
- I heard something about a crazy game in Berkeley on Saturday night?
Team of the first half
Arizona, duh. I haven't talked about them much because we've kinda been taking them for granted. You might be interested to learn that only UCLA has managed to score more than a point/possession against the Wildcats' insane defense so far this year. Arizona's offense isn't as overwhelming as their defense, but they have scored more than a point/possession in every game until struggling on their Bay Area road trip. They have thoroughly dominated a solid conference and could very easily have made it undefeated despite facing their three toughest games of the season all in the first half.
Surprise team of the first half
Oregon State is 5-4 with three forgivable road losses and one home loss to Cal. I'm 99% sure UCLA has the best offense in the conference, but technically the Beavers have been just as good in conference play only behind the inevitable conference scoring leader Roberto Nelson and his very capable sidekicks Devon Collier and Angus Brandt.
Player of the first half
Kyle Anderson, UCLA
He's the highest usage player on the best offense in the conference. He's the 2nd best rebounder in the conference. Oh yeah, and he leads the conference in assists. Nobody in the Pac-12 comes even close to matching his collective skill set. If he continues to play at his current level, the only question is if voters decide that they HAVE to pick a player from a dominant Arizona team that runs away with the regular season title.
All conference team of the first half
Presented without justification, because I'll save justifications (and probably change my mind) for the end of the year, when the picks actually matter.
PG: Roberto Nelson, Oregon State
G: C.J. Wilcox, Washington
G: Nick Johnson, Arizona
F: Kyle Anderson, UCLA
F/C: Richard Solomon, California
Upset of the first half
USC has one conference win. Sure, they've come close a few other times - an OT loss here, an OT loss there. But when a team has only one win, you wouldn't expect that win to come over a team currently tied for 2nd place in the conference.
Disappointment of the first half
Oregon has been a little unlucky, I suppose. They had to face Colorado on the road when they were healthy. They've lost three games by four points or less. If you squint you could imagine them sitting at 5-4 and right in the thick of things. On the other hand, their schedule hasn't been very tough, and they easily could have lost in Utah. Their only other wins came against the two worst teams in the conference.
The Ducks deserve to be 3-6 in conference. For now they're hanging on in the RPI top 50 thanks to an undefeated non-conference campaign. The Pac-12 thanks you for your service, Oregon.
Next Week in the Pac-12
Stanford at California, 6:00, ESPN2
Washington State at Colorado, 6:30, Pac-12 Network
Oregon at Arizona, 6:00, ESPN
Washington at Utah, 6:00, Pac-12 Network
Oregon State at Arizona State, 8:00, Fox Sports 1
Oregon at Arizona State, 2:00, Fox Sports 1
Washington State at Utah, 5:00, Pac-12 Network
UCLA at USC, 7:30, Pac-12 Network
Oregon State at Arizona, 4:00, Pac-12 Network
Washington at Colorado, 5:00, ESPNU
Honestly, it's a pretty weak slate of games, but that's what happens when three of the better teams in the conference are only playing one game.
There are three games this week matching up two teams that will start the week either 6-3 or 5-4: Stanford at Cal, OSU at ASU and Washington at Colorado. I'm inclined to say that Cal/Stanford is the biggest game of the week in the conference, although I'm enjoying the fact that you could even make an argument in favor of the Beavers vs. the Sun Devils.
(Seriously though this might be the best OSU team since Gary Payton. Which, admittedly: low bar)
With so many games matching up contenders with one of the four teams in the bottom 3rd of the conference, the question is if anybody should be on upset alert? I'll say that Washington will lose to Utah in SLC, although that one isn't really an upset at all.