The Big 5 in Pac 12 NCAA basketball: Where’s UCLA?
February 21, 2012 3:05 AM
by Jim Feist
There’s the Big 5 in Pac 12 basketball with a string of teams battling for the top spot. Here’s a look at the strengths and weaknesses of these teams.
The Golden Bears have been a well rounded offensive machine, tops in the Pac 12 in field goal shooting, three-point and free throw percentage. The three guard attack of 6-6 sophomore Allen Crabbe (16 ppg), senior Jorge Gutierrez (13.7 ppg) and Justin Cobbs lead the team in scoring.
Cal hasn’t been very good in the role of underdog until a nice 73-63 win at UCLA last week. The Bears shot 52 percent from the floor in completing their first season sweep of the Bruins since 1993-94.
Note: The major concern is not playing well against top competition – it’s getting blown out by Missouri (92-53) and UNLV (85-68).
While Cal prefers to run, the Wildcats are getting it done with defense and rebounding behind 6-6 junior Solomon Hill (12.5 ppg, 8 rpg) and 6-7 senior Jason Perry (12 ppg, 7.6 rpg). Zona tops the Pac 12 in three-point shooting defense and is fourth in rebounding.
Senior guard Keith Fogg (12.8 ppg) is an outstanding three-point shooter, who leads in scoring and runs the backcourt. The Cats took Florida to overtime before losing 78-72 in December. Arizona pulled off a Bay Area sweep two weeks ago by beating California and Stanford, then followed it with a decisive win over Colorado. When Pac 12 play started the Cats went on an 8-5 run UNDER the total.
Note: Arizona hosts the LA schools this weekend, with a road trip to Arizona State to wind up the regular season.
The Huskies run a wide-open attack, second in the conference in scoring (75 ppg), No. 38 in the nation. They have a dynamite 1-2 punch with 6-5 freshman Tony Wroten (16.4 ppg) and 6-foot-6 soph Terrance Ross (15 ppg, 7 rpg). Add 7-foot, 260-pound junior Aziz N’Diaye (7.7 rpg) and Washington leads the Pac 12 in rebounding.
Washington stumbled the first five weeks of the season, but has really caught fire at the right time. They won at Arizona and at Oregon State as a dog each time. Despite the reputation last year as one of the best offensive teams in the nation, the defense (41.8% shooting allowing in Pac 12 play) has been impressive. The UNDER is on a current 12-2 run.
Note: Washington has a key three-game road trip to end the regular season at Washington State, USC and UCLA.
The Ducks are in the Pac 12 hunt despite being in the middle of the pack in overall stats. Oregon gets it done behind the 1-2 punch of 6-4 senior Devoe Joseph (15.7 ppg) and 6-6 junior E.J. Singler (13.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg).
Singler was named Basketball Player of the Week last week after leading the Ducks to a home sweep of the Washington schools, in which he averaged team highs of 18.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
Note: Oregon is on a current 7-2 ATS run that included five straight up wins as a dog!
The Buffaloes won 24 games last season while making the NIT. They have their sites set higher this season. Colorado is one of the top rebounding teams in the Pac 12, led by 6-7 sophomore Andre Roberson (11 ppg, 11 rpg), reliable from the charity stripe and a tough defensive squad that tops the Pac 12 allowing 39.7% shooting by opponents.
Early-season defeats in nonconference play kept the Buffs out of the NCAA Tournament last year. Colorado started slowly – losing to Wichita State, Maryland, Colorado State and Wyoming before Dec. 10. To be strongly considered for an at-large bid, the Buffs need to top 22 wins and reach the finals of the Pac-12 tourney March 7-10 in Los Angeles.
Note: This is a real big week for Colorado hosting Stanford and Cal, both revenge games.