Wednesday, March 2nd
You’ll have to forgive me for not watching Washington, Washington State. The Huskies win last night, combined with a loss by Oregon State, vaulted the Purple Sled Dogs into solo seventh place in the conference; they have wins over Stanford, USC, and Colorado. Pool players will be familiar with Washington’s situation.
Washington still had six balls on the table when their opponent (Oregon State) got down to the eight ball (USC). The Beavers had an extremely makeable shot lined up (the most polite way to describe this year’s Trojan Squad is enigmatic) and whiffed.
Andrew Andrews scored 47 points in the contest. I could practically hear his ecstatic screams all the way from Breckenridge. Life after death. LIFE AFTER DEATH. LIFE AFTER DEATH! If only.
Despite the victory, Washington is still very much off the tournament bubble. A situation where Stanford leaves Arizona without a victory and Oregon State drops their final game at UCLA will keep the Huskies in seventh place. At best, I’d call this scenario unlikely, but while we’re taking hypotheticals, why not.
Even with a seventh place finish in the Pac-12, Washington would have to catch FIRE in the Pac-12 Tournament. A trip to the finals that included an upset of Utah, Arizona, or Oregon and a good showing in the finals game would probably get some last four in talk going. I’d say don’t hold your breath.
Right now Washington is a corpse, entombed in a coffin planted six feet under the ground. In accordance with their last wishes, the Huskies were buried in a safety coffin. There are a lot of fans at the gravesite praying for the bell to ring, but as more time passes, it’s becoming less likely that they’ll hear chimes. Washington peaked too soon.
With last night’s victory Oregon secured at least a share of the Pac-12 regular season championship. Congratulations Ducks! No sarcasm there, the Pac-12 was unbelievably good this year, a regular season championship is a real achievement.
Despite the in-conference implications, last night’s game was not a seeding victory. Right now, Oregon would be a three seed. I think they can move up to a two with a good showing in the conference tournament. The Ducks pacing the Conference of Champions at a two seed would be incredible for the other Pac-12 teams. Remember, we (me and Bill Walton) are hoping to squeeze six teams in behind Oregon.
What do we say about UCLA? They played incredibly well against Oregon. It was a fun game to watch from a team who had their NCAA Tournament hopes cremated with a loss at Stanford last week. Last night Oregon opened the urn that contained the ashes of those hopes, and spread them all over the fabled halls of Pauley Pavilion.
The woes don’t stop there. If UCLA loses Saturday their record will drop to 15-16, and they will be ineligible for the CIT. There’s no requirement for a .500 record in the NIT, but according to Wikipedia, no team with a losing record has ever been invited.
So if the Beavers come out on top Saturday, a UCLA team that beat the number one Kentucky Wildcats in non conference play will have to make it to the semifinals of the PAC 12 Tournament to be eligible for a consolation tournament. I’m not sure there’s a precedent for this, but baring some late season heroics in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, Northern Iowa, a team that upset then number one North Carolina isn’t dancing either. It’s been that kind of year.
USC was firing on all cylinders against Oregon State. There is absolutely, positively no team in the country that can beat the Trojans when they shoot 65% from the floor.
USC scored 56 points in the first half. Colorado lost to Utah 56-54. We BEAT Stanford 56-55.
Last week I compared USC to a drunk girl at a bachelorette party. With their win last night, that girl has cleaned herself up, and you know what? She actually looks pretty good. Now she’s at the wedding reception, sans date, and the tournament committee is drooling over her. The Trojans will be receiving an invitation to dance. The Oregon game on Saturday is a non-factor.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Oregon State is NOT receiving an at large bid with a losing conference record. A loss on Sunday will set the stage for an Oregon State UCLA rematch in the NIT. Don’t panic Beavs fans; USC has played really well at home this year. I’m tired of picking on UCLA. Let’s just say they’re beatable.
Thursday, March 3rd
Arizona Cal. What a game. What a game! WHAT A GAME!! Arizona willed themselves to victory. Any doubts I had about the Wildcats after consecutive losses at Utah and Colorado have been erased. Arizona’s a great basketball team. Gabe York is a great basketball player. Truly a heroic comeback. I don’t know what to call it. McGradyesque? Stoudamiresque is probably more apt.
That was a seeding victory. With that win and a good performance in the Pac-12 Tournament, Arizona could enter the NCAA tournament as a two seed. They’re in the same position as Oregon.
This is huge for the Walton Scenario, the Conference of Champions can absolutely squeeze six teams behind a two seed. If Arizona, Utah, or Cal win the conference championship, and Oregon State wins tomorrow we’re home free. Except that Stanford played their way out of the NCAA Tournament last night.
When they show up, Arizona State isn’t a bad basketball team. The Stanford team I banked my hopes upon didn’t show up last night. Or they didn’t show until the two-minute mark of the second. By then it was too late. This is a real shame, because Johnny Dawkins knows how to coach tournament basketball.
Stanford has won two of the last four NITs. In 2014 the Cardinal were not eligible to win the NIT because they were playing in the NCAA Tournament. 10th seeded Stanford upset New Mexico and Kansas on their way to the Sweet 16.
But let’s face facts, Stanford is not going to beat the Arizona team we saw last night. Their dreams for an at large bid are over, now they can hope for an NIT championship. DON’T SLEEP ON STANFORD (if you’re handicapping the NIT). Here’s your YouTube status update: