The PAC-12 got even more bunched up last night as USC and UCLA both lost at home and Oregon snuck past Cal on the road. The difference between second place and ninth place is just two games in a league that is increasingly looking like a one-bid league. It is shocking to think that a league as powerful as the PAC-12 might get just one bid into the NCAA tournament, but at this point, nobody has separated themselves from the rest of the pack, pun intended, and Washington is the only team that appears to be somewhat of a lock at his point.
Joe Lunardi, ESPN’s chief bracketologist, currently has just two teams in the field of sixty-eight from the PAC-12, Washington at an eight seed, and Arizona State at a ten. The next closest team is Arizona, who currently is falling into the next four out category. The home court losses from USC and UCLA last night were very damaging to their resumes, as they both had very winnable games, and unless they finish undefeated the rest of the way out, they are likely to find themselves on the wrong side of the bubble on Selection Sunday.
For today’s pick, I will take a look at two of the better teams in the PAC-12, as the Washington Huskies head to Arizona to face the Wildcats. The Huskies are undefeated in league play at 9-0 and are very close to locking up the PAC-12 regular season title, which should be enough to get them into the NCAA tournament no matter what happens in the PAC-12 conference tournament. All four of Washington’s losses came against good teams that will be dancing in March, and if they can pick up the road victory tonight, it will all but cement their status as a tournament team.
For Arizona, they still have some work to do. The Wildcats were playing well to start the season in the non-conference, but they have fallen on hard times recently as they have lost four out of their last five games. A win tonight would go a long way into getting the Wildcats back into consideration for an at-large bid. This game is an even pick ‘em right now. The game total over-under is set at 135 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM PST from the McKale Center in Tucson.
Sean Miller’s time in Tucson has been mired in controversy since seemingly day one. He is being investigated by the FBI and is on the hottest of hot seats. News reports came out yesterday that the school was firing his number two assistant, Mark Phelps. They claim it has nothing to do with the FBI investigation, but if you ask me, it looks like Miller is trying to use Phelps as the fall guy, to save himself.
Miller was suspended last year in controversy surrounding the recruiting of future number one overall pick, Deandre Ayton, and something tells me that Miller can run but not hide from this investigation, and at some point, he is going to get fired. Why do I mention all of this? Well, because it is a major distraction for this team. You gotta remember, we are dealing with kids here, and when these kids see their coaches being fired and investigated by the FBI, it is hard to remain focused on the task at hand, winning basketball games. The teams’ recent four out of five games skid comes as the tension surrounding the coaching staff is getting heavier by the day.
The Washington Huskies might just be a really good basketball team. The wins are mostly quantity over quality for Washington, but they are starting to really add up. And I am not a big fan of moral victories, but this team has shown us some good things in close losses. They nearly knocked off Gonzaga in Spokane, earlier this year, and their other losses are to Minnesota, Auburn, and Virginia Tech, all teams that have been ranked in the top twenty-five this season. This team has shown me they can compete with the best teams in the nation.
The Huskies appear to be in a class of their own in the PAC-12 this season, as they are running away with the regular season title. This week will be the biggest test of the year for UDub, as they play at Arizona, and then follow that up with a road trip to Arizona State. If they can sweep the two Arizona teams on the road, the regular season title is theirs.
This game opened up at Arizona -1.5 and the sharps pounded it. It is very rare that the early morning sharp bettors pound a road team like this, but that is what happened. I think they realize that with all of their recent struggles and all of this controversy is finally catching up to the Wildcats and that they shouldn’t be laying wood against a team as talented as Washington.
And I tend to agree. I wouldn’t want to lay any points in this one as I expect a very competitive game, but where the line stands right now, I won’t have to. I think Washington is the more talented, and much more focused team in his one. I think they find a way to win this game, and then head to Arizona State to lock up the PAC-12 title. Give me the Washington Huskies at an even pick ‘em tonight from the McKale Center!