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Tag:Pac-12
Posted on: March 4, 2012 8:49 pm
 

Pac-12 a one-bid league? It's possible

With Cal, Arizona and Washington all losing this weekend, the Pac-12 is in at-large trouble. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

The mediocrity of the Pac-12 has been a running joke in the college basketball world this season, but this weekend took it to a new level.

Washington lost to UCLA, but still won the outright regular-season championship after California lost to Stanford on Sunday evening. Arizona, which had seen its at-large hopes get better and better recently, lost to Arizona State. The only team that helped its Selection Sunday chances was Oregon, which put a whooping on Utah.

The chances that the Pac-12 was only going to get one bid to the NCAA tournament seemed pretty low prior to the weekend, but now it’s not a far-fetched idea. To be honest, no one should feel remotely comfortable about its at-large chances heading into the conference tournament.

Let’s look at the resumes, in the correct pecking order.

California: The Golden Bears clearly have the best at-large resume of the quartet, and also went 3-0 against Oregon and Washington. The computer profile is pretty solid, and they are 6-5 against the top 100. On the other side, they have three sub-100 losses and didn’t finish with a share of the league title. The non-conference profile is also mediocre, as the best win outside of the Pac-12 was over Weber State. They probably felt safe for much of the season, but there’s still work to be done.

Washington: The Huskies don’t have a great profile, but they nonetheless won the outright regular-season championship, which will be a great bargaining chip on Selection Sunday. They are only 1-6 against the top 50 and 3-8 against the top 100. The only bad loss was Saturday’s defeat at the hands of UCLA. Overall, the Huskies did not beat a single NCAA tournament team, as the best non-league wins are over UC-Santa Barbara and Georgia State. Those are their only two non-conference wins over teams ranked in the top 200 of the RPI.

Oregon: The Ducks have slowly but surely played themselves into at-large contention over the past month, winning 11 of their last 14 games. Moreover, they thumped Washington by 25 points in early February. The RPI has moved into the top 50, as well. Now, for the bad. 19 of their 22 wins are over teams ranked outside the top 100, and they are 0-5 vs. the top 50. There’s one sub-100 loss, a home defeat to Oregon State. The non-conference profile is barren, with the best wins coming over Nebraska and UTEP. The thing that complicates their profile is Devoe Joseph, who missed the first six games of the season.

Arizona: The Wildcats are essentially finished when it comes to an at-large bid, after their terrible loss at Arizona State. It dropped them to fourth in the Pac-12, and is a sub-250 loss. The computer profile is mediocre, and 17 of their 21 wins came from outside the top 100. There is a road win at California on the ledger, but that won’t carry them to a bid. Arizona now needs to win the Pac-12 tournament if it wants a bid.

Can the Pac-12 really only get one bid? If California wins the tournament, it’s possible.

Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:00 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 5:27 pm
 

College basketball's February: in photos

By Matt Norlander

Twenty-nine days gone, here are the best images taken from dedicated photogs around the country. Some are from big moments in big games; others are snapshots that you'd never would have known if not for a quick finger and clean lens. I'm continually grateful that news organizations put a premium on covering games with equal parts dedication to the pen as they do the camera. Enjoy this fantastic work.

Previously:

The shot that could ultimately decide who gets the final No. 1 seed. Look carefully behind Seth Curry's right arm. See the girl who can't bear to watch Rivers' shot. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Celebration, from above. It's like a connect-the-dots to a victory charge. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The dots turn into people from the floor view. Andre Dawkins gets to Austin Rivers first. (AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds)

Truman the Tiger pumps up the crowd before the Missouri-Kansas game. (Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

This monstrous Mike Moser poster is revolutionary, and I hope the NCAA doesn't ban them. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Rapper Flavor Flav and his son Karma Drayton at UNLV-San Diego State game. This is a PHOTO. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Aiden Williams is held by grandfather Roy. I desperately want Roy's jacket. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Rick Pitino whipped out the white suit. Or is that ivory? (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

I'm goign to assume this isn't brother and sister. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Kammeon Holsey provides the most dramatic moment of Georgia Tech's season. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Bugs Bunny ears are the perfect touch. (Lance King/Getty Images)

Mark Turgeon receives the Whitney Houston news. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Rob Lowe is always watching you, even when he's taking a photo of something else. Unnerving. (Lance King/Getty Images)

UNC cheerleader finds a moment to herself. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Fireworks do their job prior to the Kansas-Missouri game. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Tom Izzo, left, and Mike Eades engage in a conversation that most likely doesn't go anywhere. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Washington State guard Dexter Kernich-Drew is a shy Tyrannosaur. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Frank Martin spots his reflection in the floor and is startled for the first time in his life. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Frank Martin, I'm so sorry. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Connecticut women's head coach Geno Auriemma matches his background. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Illinois basketball.(AP Photo/Dave Weaver)

It is unclear whether Delaware's Elena Delle Donne passed her most recent physical. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A brief disagreement. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Missouri guard Michael Dixon regrets. Kansas celebrates. The rivalry is over. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Arkansas' Ky Madden tries to shoot over Auburn's Adrian Forves (45) and Kenny Gabriel (22). Seemed like a good idea at the time. (AP Photo/Todd J. Van Emst)

Bill Self proclaims victory, wins eighth straight Big 12 regular-season title. (US PRESSWIRE)

Duke's Haley Peters pays for the sins of Gerald Henderson. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Miami's Durand Scott celebrates with fans after Miami defeated Florida State 78-62. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Quincy Miller, right, borrows a camera from Waco Tribune Herald photographer Rod Aydelotte, left. One of my favorite shots of the month. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Texas forward Alexis Wangmene gets emotional on Senior Night. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)

Someone get the sewing machine. (Greg M. Cooper/US PRESSWIRE)

Love, love, love this shot of Kenny Boynton being defended by Mardracus Wade. His right ankle is taking all the pressure, while his body remains squarely balanced. The left toe is almost perpendicular to the floor, and the ball and shift is on. A terrific capture of a basketball move and body balance. (Beth Hall/US PRESSWIRE)

It's not often we get to see the sole of a player. (US PRESSWIRE)

Tom Crean has enjoyed life. But not as much as that fellow. (US PRESSWIRE)

Please attend the NCAA tournament. (US PRESSWIRE)

Frank Haith knows this year was unexpected and a special one. (US PRESSWIRE)

Shurna face multiplies. (US PRESSWIRE)

A different view of UCLA basketball. That shot looks like it's going to miss. (US PRESSWIRE)

Jeremy Lamb sees UConn's future inside that basketball. (US PRESSWIRE)

Robbie Hummel on Senior Night. I'd get snarky, but Goodman would threaten me again. (US PRESSWIRE)

Anthony Marshall waits out the rush on the scorer's table after UNLV is defeated at Colorado State. (Ryan Greene)

John Shurna, left, and Drew Crawford react after losing to Ohio State on Senior Night. Will the Wildcats' time, their first time, in the NCAAs come this year? (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Of course, last, here's what's considered college basketball's photo of the year. Jack Blankenship turned himself into a 15-second celebrity with this brilliant idea. (The Birmingham News/Hal Yeager)
Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:57 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 2:03 pm
 

UCLA issues not unusual, except for Howland angle

UCLA's problems may have been more extreme than some cases, but lots of programs have in-fighting. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Jeff Goodman


It's been a mess at UCLA over the past few years.

Sports Illustrated's George Dohrmann painted a telling picture that certainly has contributed to Ben Howland and the Bruins' recent struggles in Westwood.

Drugs. Fights. A chemistry killer. Hardly a novel concept within the workings of a big-time college basketball program.

"We've had all that stuff before," said one high-major assistant coach. "There's no bombshell there."

The shocker, honestly, is that it involves Howland -- forever considered a strict disciplinarian -- and a program like UCLA.

Everyone close to the Bruins program was well-aware of Reeves Nelson shortly after he arrived on campus. Talented, but a bad kid. He was described to me by more than one person as "the worst teammate ever to wear a UCLA Bruins uniform."

Dohrmann has plenty of Nelson stories. Fights with numerous teammates. Cheap shots. Urinating on ex-teammate Tyler Honeycutt's clothes.

Ultimately, Howland sold out and gave Nelson opportunity after opportunity instead of cutting ties early. That wouldn't have been the case had the Bruins been in the midst of three straight Final Fours from 2006-08. Instead, this is a program that has become irrelevant on the national landscape and Howland is fighting for his future on the left coast. The Bruins were 14-18 two years ago, made the NCAA tournament last season and will likely be headed to the NIT this year.

Howland can coach. There's no doubting that. Let's not forget what this man did his last couple years at Pittsburgh and during that impressive three-year stretch where they were a constant in the Final Four. He can also develop talent as many NBA guys have told me that UCLA Bruins are as prepared as anyone to come in and make a rapid adjustment to the pro game.

But he's apparently lost some measure of control within his own program. Former players, whether it's guys in the NBA or at other schools, are bashing his methodical system which doesn't promote freedom. Howland and his staff have been unable to recruit at the level necessary to compete at the highest level.

He's made mistakes on the recruiting trail, whether it was by taking kids that aren't talented enough or kids that doesn't fit his system and personality.

This story, which sheds a poor light on Howland and the program overall, certainly won't help his job security in Westwood.

Kids blowing off curfew to party and do drugs. Fights both on and off the court between teammates.

But let's not pretend this is an anomaly, either.

It happens on college campuses with students. It happens within soccer and lacrosse programs.

And it's happening with Howland's UCLA Bruins basketball team.

Howland has signed one of the nation's top recruits, 6-foot-8 point forward Kyle Anderson, but he had to go all the way to the northeast to do so. He hired a former AAU coach from Atlanta on his staff this past offseason. People can talk all they want about the lack of talent coming out of the west coast, but Howland and his staff were unable to beat out Arizona for Brandon Ashley and Grant Jarrett. They

UCLA isn't UCLA right now.

But it's not all that different than many other programs.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 28, 2012 1:33 pm
 

It's our bulkiest Tuesday poll yet

By Matt Norlander

We're back again with our weekly Tuesday poll and we want you to click through and let us know who you're picking for this week's marquee games. This is by far and away the most we've ever included in a poll, which means it will take you 20 seconds instead of the normal 13 to decide.

As usual, all of these games will be discussed on Wednesday night's edition of "Courtside with Seth Davis" at 7 p.m. ET. Before or after you vote, I also implore you to like the Eye On College Basketball Facebook page. And if that's not enough, CBSSports.com has your roundball fix tended to thanks to our daily newsletter. That newsleter is fantastic -- send it along to a parent or relative who you think would want that in their mailbox this time of year, too.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 21, 2012 12:35 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 1:07 pm
 

Slip into the poll booth once again

By Matt Norlander

We're back again with our weekly Tuesday poll and we want you to click through and let us know who you're picking for this week's marquee games. All of these games will be discussed on CBS Sports Network programming this week, airing on Wednesday night's edition of "Courtside with Seth Davis" at 7 p.m. ET, then against on Inside College Basketball (Wednesday night/Thursday morning at midnight)

Want more of us? Or more interaction with hoops fans? We suggest you like the Eye On College Basketball Facebook page. And if that's not enough, CBSSports.com has your roundball fix tended to thanks to our daily newsletter.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 18, 2012 5:41 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 12:39 am
 

Night Court: Bubbles, upsets & BracketBusters



By Jeff Borzello and Matt Norlander

We broke down every bubble game as the day went on, over at the Poppin' Bubbles page. For all the analysis and ramifications of the bubble's winners and losers, check it there. We'll recap all the non-bubble things here. 

Game of the Night: Everyone knew that Long Beach State vs. Creighton would be filled with plenty of offense and two teams that really wanted to prove themselves on national television. It certainly didn't disappoint -- what a game. LBSU was in control for most of the game, leading by as many as 10 points in the second half. However, Doug McDermott and Creighton kept coming and kept coming. A missed layup by Casper Ware and a turnover allowed Creighton to get the last shot. Antoine Young took advantage, and -- well, I'll let the video above tell the rest of the story. 

Game of the Night, Vol. 2:
Dayton. Xavier. City rivals. Both desperate for a bubble win. The game lived up to the drama, with the two teams going back and forth for 40 minutes -- and then an extra five after Dayton's Kevin Dillard made a layup with 1.2 seconds left to tie the game. Tu Holloway controlled the overtime, reverting to the clutch form he showed during Xavier's 8-0 start to the season. If he continues to play like that, might the Musketeers regain their magic? 

Game of the Day: 
Kansas State, perhaps you’ll no longer be underrated. That was the case at the mock selection meetings this week in Indianapolis. The Wildcats were placed into the 8/9 game, and now they’re certainly on the seven line at worst after beating Baylor 57-56 in Waco.

New Mexico, best of the West?: New Mexico, I’ve praised you in recent Power Pyramids, and now I’m fully in love with what the Lobos are capable of. They didn't mess around against UNLV, winning at home 65-45 and taking full control of the Mountain West chase. I've seen a lot of people mention the fact they liked New Mexico at the start of the season. I actually didn't. I came around on them soon, but didn't think they'd be this good. UNLV's a really nice team; the Lobos made them look like Air Force this afternoon at The Pit. 

Michigan, darkhorse Big Ten contender?: With Michigan beating Ohio State at home on Saturday night, the Wolverines could be a potential sleeper in the Big Ten title race. They are only a half-game back of Michigan State in the standings, and are now tied with Ohio State for second place. They also don't play any of the contenders the rest of the way. 

Murray State shows out: Saint Mary's has now lost three of its last four, but Murray State dominated the Gaels from the opening tip and showed that it's still a threat to win at least a game or two in the NCAA tournament. The Racers played tremendous defense all night, and got timely baskets from Isaiah Canaan and Donte Poole. 

Rough day for Conference-USAUTEP gets its first road win of the season. Where does it come? FedEx Forum. Memphis sticks a hot dagger right into its foot with a 60-58 loss to the .500 Miners. Conference USA can be a two-bid league, but only if Memphis takes the auto bid and Southern Miss keeps winning until the semis or finals of the conference championship game. No time for duds for Josh Pastner’s team, especially at home against middling foes. That wasn't the only problem for the league. Southern Miss went into Houston and dropped one to the Cougars. Now there's very little separation at the top of the standings -- and that could limit the number of bids from the league.

No soup for you, personally: Perry Jones III. Had four points, four rebounds and fouled out. I’ve recently talked to a few former players who think PJ3 is the real deal. He isn’t showing it, and I’ve never actually seen it. This isn’t just Scott Drew, either (plenty want to criticize his coaching of this talented team). Jones lacks semblance of urgency, anger and pride on the floor. He seems likely to be a big factor in costing Baylor a game in March.

Saturday all-stars

  1. Wichita State is the truth and Joe Ragland is among the best “mid-major” players in the country. The guard who’s shorter than half the guys in your social circle is one of the most efficient shooters in the nation. He put up 30 and seven rebounds in a 91-74 road win against a more-than-decent Davidson team. Shockers were a four seed in the mock selection process. They can easily get that if they win the Valley tournament.
  2. Drew Gordon had 27 points and 20 rebounds, officially. (One UNLV beat writer is shooting down that 20-boards stat). For as much as I’ve been pushing UNM this season, I’ve said they won’t go next level until Gordon plays to his talent. He did that today. UNLV was playing in mud and Gordon did what he wanted. Can be a difference-maker in the tournament, certainly.
  3. Nate Wolters led South Dakota State to a BracketBusters beatdown on Buffalo, taking out the Bulls 86-65. Wolters had 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds. #NatersGonnaNate
  4. Jae Crowder with 29 points and 12 rebounds for Marquette in its 79-64 road win at UConn. It’s always been Crowder, not Darius Johnson-Odom, who’s been the most critical piece for the Golden Eagles the past two years.
  5. Keiton Page dropped 40 points in Oklahoma State's win over Texas.
  6. St. Bonaventure's Andrew Nicholson went for 32 points and 13 boards, continuing his dominance outside the nation's watchful eye.
  7. South Dakota's Louie Krogman lost, but 37 points and six assists? Not too bad.

Other action worth your attention

  1. San Diego State lost its second in a row, stumbling on the road at Air Force. Xavier Thames' 3-pointer hit the front rim at the buzzer, and now the Aztecs are out of the Mountain West title hunt.
  2. It was almost pretty bad, and certainly a seed line sacrifice for Louisville in Chicago this afternoon. The Cardinals needed overtime — and were sort of luck to get there — to take out DePaul, 90-82. my attention, which isn’t the case with 90 percent of tilts involving ACC teams this year.  
  3. I think one of the two most important wins of the day came in Seattle. Washington earned a season sweep of Arizona, definitively putting UW over U of A when it comes to whether or not either deserves an at-large. (And as of now, I’d say neither.) However, the 79-70 win for the Puppies was one of the best for Lorenzo Romar, as he had 25 come from Terrence Ross and 22 come from Tony Wroten, Jr. Washington can be fun to watch—but they’ve been like this for years, now. Fun, inconsistent. Loves to run, stumbles over itself.
  4. Tennessee’s not that good, but boy was that a big win for Alabama to just stop the bleeding and beat the Vols in Tuscaloosa.
  5. Mercer lost its share of the Atlantic Sun title, Bucknell lost its second straight game in the Patriot, and Harvard grabbed control of the Ivy League. Mississippi Valley State also improved to 14-0 in the SWAC, while Middle Tennessee continued to cruise.
  6. Texas-Arlington ended its 16-game winning streak with a loss at Damian Lillard and Weber State.
  7. What a comeback by Notre Dame. Down by 20 points, the Fighting Irish stormed back against Villanova and won in overtime. Pat Connaughton had 21 points, and Jack Cooley continued his surprising dominance with 18 points and 13 boards.
  8. Iona simply outran Nevada in the second half. The Gaels forced the Wolf Pack to play too fast and made them turn the ball over left and right.
  9. Gonzaga lost to San Francisco for the third consecutive season, as Rashad Green hit a runner with less than three seconds left. Saint Mary's still has control of the WCC standings.
  10. Georgetown beat Providence. Goodman has his reaction to the game.
Delightful (and not-so delightful) thoughts
  • If you think we missed any of the bubble talk, just go to Poppin' Bubbles. Everything is over there.
  • If you want UConn thoughts, we touched on that earlier today.
  • Iowa State is going to coast through the backdoor into the tournament, FYI. The Cylcones won 80-69 over Oklahoma today. The resume keeps getting more cushion. Mildly concerning was Royce White only scoring four points. A lot of variance in his game.
  • Drexel starting to feel like a CAA team on a huge come, but the 69-49 win at Cleveland State was also about the Vikings having the floor fall through their season yet again.
  • Tiny thought. One seeds don’t lose in conference on the road against bad teams. Missouri 71, Texas A&M 62. Kansas kept pace, by steamrolling Texas Tech on the road.
Oh, and the video below is maybe the best buzzer-beater of the day: Pacific's Trevin Harris knocking down a 3 to beat Idaho State. (h/t @bigskybball

Posted on: February 12, 2012 8:40 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 8:47 pm
 

Night Court: Seton Hall, Purdue get bubble wins

Meyers Leonard struggled mightily on the offensive end against Michigan, as Illinois lost by nine. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: In a game with major implications for the bubble, Seton Hall went on an 18-5 run to finish the game en route to a 73-66 win over Pittsburgh. Even more impressively, the Pirates played the final six minutes without Fuquan Edwin, who fouled out after making a jumper to cut the lead to four. Brandon Mobley came up with an important steal, while Herb Pope made four free throws in the final 11 seconds, to clinch the victory for Seton Hall. Pitt probably needs to win the Big East tournament to get to the Big Dance now.

Win to brag about: Stony Brook came into Sunday at 12-1 in the America East and on top of the standings. Second-place Vermont simply went out and hammered the Seawolves by 19, holding them without a 3-pointer despite 15 attempts from behind the arc. Four McGlynn had 24 points off the bench for the Catamounts, who can now win a share of the regular-season title – and potential homecourt advantage in the conference tournament.

Loss to hide from: Only two days after beating Iona to take sole possession of first place in the MAAC, Loyola (Md.) was throttled at home by Fairfield, 68-51. The loss ended the Greyhounds’ seven-game winning streak, as they shot just 17.4 percent from the field in the second half. A 12-0 run midway through the second stanza broke things open for the Stags.

Player who deserves improper benefits: In the “Battle for Brooklyn,” LIU-Brooklyn senior Jamal Olasewere shot 11-for-11 from the field, finishing with 32 points and seven rebounds in an 81-78 win over St. Francis (N.Y.). The win keeps the Blackbirds atop the Northeast, and completes a two-game sweep of the city rival Terriers.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: Michigan is most vulnerable on the inside, so most expected Illinois sophomore Meyers Leonard to have a monster game on the interior. However, he struggled with foul trouble and only finished with five points on five shots as Michigan came out with a 70-61 win. Leonard did grab 12 rebounds, but Bruce Weber needed more offensive production from his big man. 

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 0: Binghamton is still winless after losing a 62-60 game to Hartford. The Bearcats have five regular-season games left to get a victory.
  • 6: The Northeast has a “Rivalry Week” where each team plays their rival twice in a matter of days. All six matchups featured 2-0 sweeps.
  • 26: Kyle Weems became the 26th played in Missouri Valley history to reach 1800 points, as Missouri State beat Bradley by 11.
  • 10: St. John’s became the first team in the country to lost 10 games to top 25 teams this season.

Three other notable results:

  1. Georgetown hit three 3-pointers during a key three-minute stretch late in the second half to hold off St. John’s, 71-61.
  2. The Big Ten featured a monster bubble battle on Sunday, with Purdue getting the big victory over Northwestern, 87-77. John Shurna had 30 points in the loss.
  3. Washington’s Terrence Ross had 21 points and 13 rebounds to lead Washington to a 75-72 victory at Oregon State. The game was a must-win for the Huskies, in order to keep pace with California at the top of the Pac-12.

Notes:

  • Connecticut announced that Warde Manuel will be the new director of athletics for the university. Manuel has been the AD at Buffalo for the past six years.
  • Dorian Finney-Smith tipped in a missed 3 with 1.8 seconds left to give Virginia Tech a 66-65 win over Boston College.
  • Scott Machado racked up a triple-double in Iona's tougher-than-expected win over Marist. He had 10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 8, 2012 1:26 pm
 

Arizona has revitalized its NCAA hopes

By Jeff Borzello

Kyle Fogg and Arizona have come out of nowhere to put themselves in contention for an-large bid. (US Presswire)

A week ago, no one was talking about Arizona. The Wildcats were 14-8 overall, 5-4 in a horrendous Pac-12 and on a collision course with the NIT – maybe.

Then, they go to Northern California and beat California and Stanford on the road – and suddenly the Wildcats were projected by nine bracketologists to make the field of 68 if it were selected today.

What? How does that happen?

That was my initial thought, at least.

While I still don’t believe the Wildcats would be included if the Selection Committee had to make its final decisions right now, their profile isn’t that much worse than say, Texas or Northwestern or Ole Miss or NC State or whichever mediocre team you want to include in your bracket.

The basics: Arizona has subpar computer numbers – RPI and SOS both in the 60s – and a sub-100 loss to UCLA back in January. However, the win over California gave the Wildcats a top-50 RPI win, and the victory at Stanford put Arizona at four top-100 wins on the season. Is that impressive? Of course not, but it puts them in the discussion. Had they snuck out a win against San Diego State or Florida back in the early stages of the season, we would likely be talking about them as the best at-large profile in the Pac-12.

What makes the Wildcats more attractive is their schedule going forward. They have four home games in the final seven, as well as two road contests at Washington State and Arizona State, who are a combined 7-15 in the league. The key game could be February 18 at Washington. In the first meeting between the two, Washington came up with big defensive stops down the stretch and Arizona missed a couple of chippies late in the game.

If Arizona goes 6-1 down the stretch – with a loss at Washington – it will leave the profile at 22-9 overall, 13-5 in the Pac-12. Considering California has a fairly tough schedule in the final month and Washington has five of its last seven on the road, could the Wildcats win the Pac-12 title?

Arizona is a young group with some key veteran leaders. It has has been playing very good defense and is become more consistent offensively as the season progresses. The Wildcats could put together a run and live up to preseason expectations with an NCAA berth, and that’s certainly more than anyone could have said about Sean Miller’s club before last week.

Like I said, it surprised me too.

Category: NCAAB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com