College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, February 17, 2011
With much of the focus on the Big East, Big Ten and Big 12, quietly cruising up the Top 25 is the only team from the PAC-10 seemingly with any credence, the Arizona Wildcats.
The Cats have risen to #12 i the AP Poll, mostly because they lead the PAC-10, a conference that has been on the skids lately, though teams from the marginalized group actually fared pretty well in last year's NCAA tourney.
It's not like the Wildcats are running away in the regular season standings. At 11-2, they're just a game ahead of 10-3 UCLA and another 1/2 game better than 10-4 Washington. The Wildcats beat UCLA a couple of weeks ago and the score wasn't very close, but they have a rematch, Saturday, Feb. 26, on the Bruins' home court where things could go differently.
Washington handled Arizona, 85-68, back in January, in Washington, and the Huskies come to Arizona Saturday to complete the season series.
That will be an interesting game by which to gauge both squads, as the Huskies are just 4-3 since beating the Wildcats. Arizona, on the other hand, is 7-0, after having taken the measure of Washington State Thursday, by a 79-70 score.
In that game, sophomore Derrick Williams did what he's done in every game this season, score in double figures, putting down 26 points for the Wildcats on 7-for-10 shooting from the field and canning all 12 of his free throws. Williams, who has eight double-doubles this season, came close, with 8 rebounds.
Which team wins the PAC-10 won't really make much difference in the larger tournament scheme of things, because after Washington, the next best team is only 7-7, that being Washington State. The other six members of the conference all all under .500, so it is reasonable to assume that the PAC-10 will send only three teams to the tourney: Arizona, UCLA and Washington.