Showing posts with label Pac-10. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pac-10. Show all posts

Saturday, March 14, 2009

USC Wins First PAC-10 Tourney Title

USC 66, Arizona St. 63

Down by 15 points at the half, the USC Trojans battled all the way back, finally taking a 64-63 lead on a pair of Daniel Hackett free throws with 43 seconds left and Taj Gibson blocked a potential game-tying shot to hold off the Sun Devils and win their first PAC-10 title in the 12-year history of the tournament.

The Trojans fell behind 39-24 at the break, but outscored Arizona State 42-24 in the second half, with a combination of stout defense and timely shooting, including a game-high and career-high 25 points from freshman forward DeMar DeRozan.

The #6 seed in the tournament, USC beat Cal, UCLA and Arizona State to capture the title and the automatic invitation to the NCAA tournament.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Louisville Wins Big East Title; Late Saturday Results

#6 Louisville 62, West Virginia 59

Getting a little help from Pitt, which knocked off Connecticut, the Louisville Cardinals took the opportunity to take the Big East regular season championship with a spirited effort at West Virginia.

The Cardinals enjoyed the luxury of playing UConn and Pitt just once each this season, splitting those games (lost to UConn, beat Pitt) and losing just once more (at Notre Dame) to finish 16-2, a game better than the 15-3 records posted by the Panthers and Huskies.

Senior forward Terrence Williams had one of his best games of the season, scoring 20 points, grabbing 6 rebounds, handing out 7 assists and pulling off 6 steals.

The win gives Louisville byes in the first two rounds of the Big East tournament, meaning they will next see action on Thursday, March 12. Winning the Big East tourney will certainly result in a #1 seed for the NCCA tournament, but the Cardinals are likely to have to face either Pitt or UConn in the finals.

There is now talk of 3 #1 seed coming out of the Big East, though that seems unlikely, since either North Carolina or Duke will get one, as will the winner of the Big 12 tournament, plus, Memphis made their case by completing their thrid straight undefeated Conference-USA season with a 74-47 thumping of Tulane, and are carrying the nation's longest win streak at 22 straight.

The PAC-10 is also being overlooked, even though last season, PAC-10 teams compiled the best record for a conference in the NCAA tourney. It might be a mistake to relegate #16 Washington (which took the conference with a 67-60 win over Washington St. Saturday) to a #2 seed and drop UCLA and Arizona St. to #3 or #4 spots.

While the PAC-10 may have had a down year, the conference as a whole may have simply been exhibiting better balance. Washington was 14-4, UCLA went 13-5 and Arizona State was 11-7. Those top three teams lost just 6 out-of-conference games and the most recent of those was on December 4, ancient history in college hoops.

It will be interesting to see how many PAC-10 teams make the field of 65 (Cal also finished 11-7; Arizona and USC were both 9-9.) and how high they will be seeded. The tournament could provide a relatively easier path to the elite 8 level for a number of PAC-10 squads.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

PAC-10: UCLA Only Team Capable of Tying Washington

After #22 UCLA beat Cal, 72-68, and #14 Arizona St. eliminated themselves from contention for the regular season PAC-10 title by losing at Washington State in overtime, 51-49, Saturday night, the Washington Huskies have already earned at least a share of the crown.

Only 11-5 UCLA can catch the 13-4 Huskies, and that's only if the Bruins win both of their remaining games - Oregon and Oregon St. - and the Huskies lose to Washington St. on Saturday, March 7. Might as well start etching the base and looking for a #2 or 3 seed in the upcoming NCAA tourney for the Huskies.

Elsewhere Saturday evening, #1 Pitt cruised past Seton Hall, 89-78, improving to 26-3 and 13-3 in the Big East, setting up the showdown for the conference title in a March 7 contest with the UConn Huskies at Pitt. The Panthers have a little work before then, however, hosting #8 Marquette on March 4.

#25 Texas will no doubt be removed from the rankings after losing at Oklahoma St., 68-59. The Longhorns dropped to 8-6 in the conference, tied with Kansas St. and Oklahoma St. Those three teams each have 9 losses, so their performance in the Big 12 tournament will likely determine which one (or maybe two) get NCAA invitations.

One team certain to make the field of 65 is #17 Gonzaga. The Bulldogs completed an undefeated conference schedule with a 58-46 win over San Diego Saturday night. With a 14-0 record in the West Caost Conference, the Zags are sure to recived a low number in the NCAA seeding process, probably a #3 or 4 position.

Friday, February 27, 2009

PAC-10: Huskies Looking Top Notch

Jon Brockman scored 21 to lead the #21 Washington Huskies to an overtime win past the #14 Arizona State Sun Devils Thursday night, 73-70

#22 UCLA struggled with Stanford, but emerged victorious, 76-71.

Cal beat USC in overtime, 81-78.

Those results left 12-4 Washington with a 1 1/2 game lead over Cal, UCLA and Arizona St., all at 10-5. Those four seem certain to receive NCAA bids. A fifth and possibly a sixth team from the conference is likely. Performance in the conference tournament will likely be the determining factor in that argument.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bruins Even Score with Huskies; Zags Cruise

UCLA (20) stepped up at home and handed defeat to the PAC-10-leading, #22 Washington Huskies, 85-76, Thursday night. After the loss, Washington continues to lead the conference, but their 10-3 record is just 1/2 game better than the Bruins, Arizona State and Cal, all at 9-3.

Justin Dentmon led the Bruins with 22 points, on 9-16 shooting, including 4 of 5 from 3-point land. Jon Brockman chipped in 16 points.

Elsewhere in the conference, Cal knocked off Oregon, 78-60, for their 20th win of the season against six losses and 4th straight.

In the West Coast conference, Gonzaga buried Loyola Marymount, 91-54, improving to 20-5 overall, and 11-0 in the conference. The BUlldogs can clinch at least a tie for the WAC title with one more win or a loss by second place (8-3) Portland.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

PAC-10 Madness: Struggling Bruins Drop Second Straight

After being bounced hard by #18 Arizona State on Thursday night, 74-67, #11 UCLA hit another speed bump when visiting the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday.

The Wildcats stormed out of the gate, opening up a 49-31 lead at the half, eventually winning 84-72, though the game was not nearly as close as the score indicated. Arizona led by as many as 25 points in the second half, even though the Bruins cut the deficit to 9 near the end of the game.

With the Bruins falling into a three-way tie for second place in the PAC-10, joined at 8-4 by Arizona State and Cal, the conference is up for grabs. Current leader, Washington, is 10-3 in conference play and 19-6 overall. They have the same overall record as both the Bruins and Cal.

Arizona is 18-8 overall and 8-5 in the conference, but is clearly the hottest team in the PAC-10, winning 7 straight after beginning conference play at 2-5 and being nearly written off as a contender.

The way they are playing, however, national ranking and a NCAA bid could be in their immediate future. If the Wildcats can continue playing well through the final five regular season games and perform well in the PAC-10 tourney (March 11-14 at the Staples Center in LA), they could even receive an automatic bid.

The task will be a daunting one for Arizona. Their next three games are all on the road: at Arizona St., Washington St. and Washington.

Friday, February 15, 2008

PAC-10 Punch: Arizona St. Downs Stanford in OT

Arizona State 72 Stanford 68 OT
Is this a bubble team or a real contender for the field of 65 in March? The Arizona State Sun Devils (6-5, 16-7) will have every chance to claim that they belong as they continue to play down the stretch of their PAC-10 schedule.

After losing five straight - to Stanford, Washington, Washington St., USC and UCLA - the rest of the conference was about to write them off. But, with their second straight win, they are suddenly back in the thick of it, just a 1/2-game behind third place Washington St. (7-5), with 9-3 Stanford and 9-2 UCLA ahead.

Fish , Hunt Ducks and Waterfowl Lake Manitoba Narrows
Golf, Fish Walleye , Fall Duck Hunting at Resort Lake Manitoba Narrows Home Cottage Lot.
The PAC-10 will likely send 5 or even six teams to the national tourney, and Arizona State has a legitimate chance at being one of the chosen few.

With seven games left on their schedule, they have the opportunity to avenge all of their losses, they've already swept in-state rival Arizona, and the remaining games are with Cal, Oregon and Oregon State, three teams they've already beaten. Supposing they win those three and split the revenge/avenge games, they'd finish up at 21-9 and 11-7 in the conference, and it would depend on which of the teams (USC, UCLA or the two Washington teams) they beat and how those teams finish.

They may be firmly on the bubble for a couple of weeks, but after last night's win, the Sun Devils have everything in front of them. The big home win over highly ranked (#7) Stanford, in which they rallied from seven points behind in the final two minutes of regulation, could be just the juice they needed.

Elsewhere in the Top 25, the Butler Bulldogs (23-2, 12-2) easily dispatched Youngstown St., 89-73, to maintain their two-game lead in the Horizon league, and #21 Washington State won their second straight after three consecutive losses, going on the road to defeat Oregon St., 70-57.

Tonight's schedule is light, with only one top 25 team in action. #22 Pittsburgh travels to Marquette for a pivotal Big East showdown. The Panthers are 7-4 in the conference and have won two straight, while rebounded with a win at Seton Hall after losing to Louisville and Notre Dame. The Golden Eagles are 7-5. Point guard Lavance Fields is expected to see action for the Panthers. He's been out 7 weeks with a broken foot.

The weekend has a number of great games on tap with all Top 25 teams taking to the hardwood. Saturday's Texas at Baylor game stirs some interest, along with Missouri at Kansas State. A late Saturday game sends Michigan State to Indiana in a battle of Big Ten powerhouses.

On Sunday, #2 Duke visits Wake Forest, while out West, UCLA tangles with crosstown rival USC.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Duke Dumps 4th Straight; #25 Stanford Also Loses

Maryland 72 #16 Duke 60 - The Maryland Terrapins are a tough beat at home, where they have a 15-3 record this season. They proved to be impossible for the visiting Duke Blue Devils as Duke's losing streak reached panic stage at 4 straight.

The loss dropped Duke to an unfamiliar place in the ACC standings - tied for 6th with Florida State, which lost last night at home, 68-67 to conference leader Boston College, now 9-2. Duke and Florida St. are both 5-6, Maryland still trails both of them at 4-6.

At 18-7, both Duke and Maryland are sitting on the proverbial tournament bubble. While both may reach 20 wins, 10 losses is also within range, and that's a number the committee always considers.

Could Duke miss being invited? It's a good possibility. Their remaining games are at Boston College, Georgia Tech, at Clemson, at St. John's, Maryland, at North Carolina. There's probably little chance of them sweeping these games. The best they can hope for is probably a split on the four road games and winning both home tilts.

That would put the Blue Devils at 22-9 with the ACC tournament ahead. Unless they win that, there's the 10th loss. Additionally, if they lose early in the ACC tourney, they're probably NIT material.

There are a bevy of quality teams which will finish with fewer than 10 losses, even though that's not necessarily a magic number. 11 or 12 losses almost certainly knocks a team out, so Duke and Maryland and a bunch of other ACC teams - Virginia, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Georgia Tech - currently have 7 or 8 losses. It's beginning to get very interesting.

Washington 64 #25 Stanford 52 - Stanford's twin 7-foot freshmen forwards, Brook and Robin Lopez, got a little lesson in positioning from Washington's forwards, Spencer Hawes and Jon Brockman. While the twins had 13 points and 7 rebounds between them, the Huskies' duo piled up 32 and 17. Hawes' 18 and Brockman's 14 propelled Washington to their 4th win in their last five games.

However, the Huskies are getting a little bit of a late start to challenge for any Pac-10 honors. They are 7th, at 6-7 and 16-8 overall. With 4 of their remaining 5 games against ranked opponents, the Huskies would do well to get an invitation to the Big Dance.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Cougars Keep Pac-10 Pressure on Bruins

#14 Washington St. 58 #25 Stanford 45 - The Washington St. Cougars stayed within hailing distance of 1st place UCLA, winning at home over Stanford. Ivory Clark had his first double-double of the season, with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The 9-3 Cougars trail the 10-2 Bruins by one game. The two teams meet March 1 at UCLA.

#8 Memphis 70 UAB 56 - The Tigers got 30 points from senior guard Jeremy Hunt and held the Blazers to just 31% shooting (16-52). The 20-3 Tigers hold a 3 1/2 game lead over their closest rivals in Conference USA. UCF, Houston and Rice all are 6-3. Memphis has won 12 straight overall; their last loss was at Arizona on Dec. 20 (79-71).

#10 Butler 92 Cleveland St. 50 - Pete Campbell scored 28 points as the Bulldogs improved to 23-2 and 11-1 in the Horizon conference. Butler can extend their lead on Saturday at Wright State, 2nd at 11-2. The Bulldogs already have a win over the Raiders in hand, having beaten them 73-42 on Jan. 6.

#12 Nevada 81 Fresno St. 68 - Nick Fazekas scored a season-high 33 points and had 15 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the season. The 10-1 Wolf Pack leads the WAC over 8-2 New Mexico State.

#13 Oregon 55 Arizona St. 51 - The Ducks won for just the 2nd time in their last 5 games, improving to 4-1 on their home court vs. Pac-10 opponents.

#24 Arizona 72 Oregon St. 66 - The Wildcats hit 25 of 33 free throws to Oregon State's 6-8 and pulled out a needed road win. The beleaguered Wildcats now face a tough three-game stretch which will likely determine their March travel plans. On Saturday, they travel to #13 Oregon. After that, they host USC and UCLA on Feb. 15 and 17, respectively.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Unrest in the West

Pac-10 produces not one, but two upsets

College basketball is probably as competitive as it has ever been. Not a single day goes by that there isn't an upset in the Top 25 ranks. while that could be due to poor choices by the poll voters, it's more likely that home courts rule and college players just aren't well-prepared for the rigors of the road.

Thursday night produced a couple of upsets, both in the Pac-10 and both against hostile home crowds.

Stanford 65 USC 50 - This one maybe wasn't as surprising as one might think. Stanford has a solid history of Pac-10 hoops play and this year's squad had already knocked off Washington St. and played Oregon close on the road.

7-foot freshman Brook Lopez and his twin brother Robin, were overpowering inside, boosting the Cardinal to an early lead which they would not give up. Brook Lopez scored 18 points, pulled down 11 rebounds, and blocked a school-record 12 shots. Brother Robin added 6, 4 and 3 blocks.

The #25 Trojans were apparently not well-prepared for the twins or the rest of the Stanford onslaught. They shot only 28% and were outrebounded 45-33.

Stanford hosts #3 UCLA this Sunday. Look out above!

Washington 89 Oregon 77 - Maybe the Huskies were just tired of losing. Maybe they were simply homesick. Whatever it was, the Huskies made #7 Oregon the unwitting victim.

Coming off a three straight road losses, Washington returned home on fire. They shot 53% (Oregon shot 55%) and made good at the foul line with regularity (19-26) to improve to 12-1 at home. Of their 7 losses, only a 96-87 defeat by Arizona occurred on their home floor.

The Huskies may be predominant at home, but they have another three-game road stretch late in the season - Feb. 17 at Pittsburgh, Feb. 22 at Oregon St. and Feb. 24 at Oregon - which could keep them out of the NCAA Tourney if they don't soon discover some secret to winning on the road.

UCLA 63 California 46 - With a little help from their Northern neighbors, the #3 Bruins took over sole control of first place in the contentious Pac-10. While Washington was waxing Oregon, the Bruins coolly disposed of Cal and built some confidence on the road. UCLA shot an even 50% from the floor while limiting the Golden Bears to just 37%. Arron Afflalo paced the Bruins with 25 points, including all 9 of UCLA's free throws (others were 0 for 6). It was Afflalo's 6th 20-or-better performance of the season.

Washington St. 70 Oregon St. 55 - The #20 Huskies improved to 6-2 in the Pac-10 and 17-3 overall with a ho-hum home win over hapless Oregon State (1-7 Pac-10). Washington State's only conference blemishes are a pair of 3-point road losses to UCLA and Stanford.

Duke 68 Clemson 66 - The #10 Blue Devils got a double-double from Josh McRoberts (17 points, 12 rebounds) and survived on a last second shot by soph David McClure to hand #19 Clemson their 3rd loss in their last 4 games. Duke nearly blew an 11-point halftime lead, and could not contain the Tigers' Vernon Hamilton, who finished with 21 points and had tied the game with 5 points in the final 6 seconds.

Duke has now won four straight ACC games after losing their first two in conference.

Butler 70 Chicago-Loyola 66 - A. J. Graves scored 26 as the #14 Butler Bulldogs got a key road win over a Horizon Conference foe. Butler is 6-1 in conference and 18-2 overall.

Nevada 84 Louisiana Tech 67 - Ramon Sessions threw down 21 points and Nick Fazekas added 13 as the #18 Wolf Pack blew by Louisiana Tech in the 2nd half. After playing to a 37-all tie at the half, Nevada outscored the Bulldogs 47-30 for their 18th win against just 2 losses.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Carolina, Kansas are Cruising

With conference wins on Wednesday night, the North Carolina Tar Heels (currently ranked #1) and Kansas Jayhawks (#6 and certain to move up) look like locks for at least the Elite 8 come tournament time.

Carolina looked a little shaky at times in their 79-69 win over Virginia, but they were up against a motivated team and will be virtually every game from here on out. The Tar Heels will continue their improvement under coach Roy Williams and got a boost of sorts when Duke fell to Georgia Tech, 74-63.

The Blue Devils don't seem to have quite the depth to go deep in the tourney, though the Yellow Jackets, despite road losses at Miami, Vanderbilt and Clemson, may be the sleeper in the ACC.

As far as the Big 12 is concerned, Kansas left little doubt about where they expected to be at season's end, whipping up on rival Oklahoma State, 87-57, in their conference opener.

Kansan Brandon Rush, a big-time scoring guard with an impeccable pedigree, led the way with 18 in the game. The two-headed monster of JamesOn Curry and Mario Boggan only totaled 20 between them. Boggan was especially ghastly, hitting only 4 of 16 from the field. You can pretty much write off the Cowboys for the tournament as they simply do not have the talent nor the motivation to move through the field.

Speaking of teams that don't have it, the Connecticut Huskies may not even make it to the Big Dance this season. They're very young, starting all underclassmen for coach Jim Calhoun. On Wednesday, the second-longest current home win streak (31 straight) came to an end when Marquette dumped the Huskies 73-69. It wasn't very pretty. UConn shot only 32% and the schedule gets more demanding from here on out.

#12 Butler was upset by Illinois-Chicago, 73-69, while #7 Pittsburgh took out DePaul, 59-49.

On Thursday night, the Pac-10 was the focus, and the top teams came through with wins. #10 Arizona topped Oregon State, 83-72. #20 Oregon survived on the road 60-55 over Arizona State. #22 Washington State also won away from home, topping Cal, 73-56.

In the same time zone, but different conference (WAC), #19 Nevada was a winner at San Jose State, 72-63.

With no Top 25 teams in action on Friday, I'll be bummin', but promise to be back tomorrow morning with some previews.