Friday, February 12, 2010

PAC-10 Counting on Cal

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, February 11, 2010

If you're a fan of college hoops - and who isn't? - you might be thinking that the PAC-10 has almost no shot of competing in the Big Dance this season, and, you'd probably be right.

It's been 5 weeks since any representative of the PAC-10 conference has made an appearance in the AP Top 25. On January 4, the then 10-3 Washington Huskies made it all the way up to #24. The Huskies then proceeded to implode, losing consecutive games at Arizona and Arizona State, on January 8 and 10, both by 17-point margins, and just like that, they were gone. It hasn't gotten any better for Washington. In six tries, they've yet to win a road game, the latest coming Thursday when they visited the Golden Bears of Cal and proceeded to finish on the short end of a 93-81 tally.

With that result, Washington dropped to 6-6 in the conference and still holds a 16-8 record overall, but no road wins is likely to mean no NCAA invite. Besides, four of the final six games for the Huskies are away from home.

The other side of the equation is Cal, which has assumed first place in the conference at 8-4, and has a 16-8 record overall. Their 4-5 road record is also not a positive, along with earlier losses to Kansas, Syracuse, Ohio State and New Mexico, all defeats by fairly sizable margins. Still, Cal is probably going to be one of the two teams - maybe three - which will represent what used to be a power conference.

In Thursday's win, Cal was led, as usual, by senior point guard Jerome Randle, who tossed in 33 points on 12-for-19 shooting. Randle is a nearly-unstoppable force, having scored in double figures in every game but one this season. He leads Cal in both scoring and assists and gives the whole conference hope that the Golden Bears might crack into the rankings sometime soon.

Beyond the Bears, the conference is still pretty wide-open, though mediocre. Arizona, Arizona St., UCLA and USC all have winning records in the conference, but the Bruins, at 11-12, look to be outclassed this season. Best bets on making the field of 65 are Cal, and both of the Arizona teams.

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