Welcome to the sixth edition of Martin's Musings, where we will take a look at what happened around the Pac-12 the previous week and take a quick look at the week to come.
Weekly Pecking Order:
1.) Arizona: Swept California and Stanford at home (16-2) [LW:1] – The Wildcats made it a statement weekend in McKale Center, completely demolishing the Cardinal and Golden Bears. Arizona ran away with the league title, winning it by three games when it was all said and done. Additionally, they swept both teams that finished tied for second (Oregon and Utah). The Wildcats remain the team to beat heading to Las Vegas
2.) Oregon: Beat Oregon State on the road (13-5) [LW:2] – The Ducks beat the Beavers on Wednesday, eight whole days before Oregon will need to play in the Pac-12 Tournament. Little did they know that the victory would eventually launch them into second place in the conference. Oregon is playing good basketball right now and has earned its spot.
3.) UCLA: Beat USC at home (11-7) [LW:4] – The Bruins have won three games in a row, but it hasn't necessarily been easy. UCLA has struggled at times against various levels of competition, but it looks like the Bruins may have figured some things out, as they have been able to pull it together enough to take fourth place back in the final weekend.
4.) Utah: Beat Washington State, lost to Washington on the road (13-5) [LW:3] – The Runnin' Utes seem like they are trying to run as far away from a basketball court as possible right now. Utah showed absolutely no heart and very little will on their trip to the Pacific Northwest. Washington State nearly downed the Utes and then quite possibly the second worst team in the league, Washington, beat them easily. The only reason that Utah isn't fifth this week is because I can't justify ASU jumping from eighth place to fourth.
5.) Arizona State: Swept Stanford and California at home (9-9) [LW:8] – A weekend of wins for the Sun Devils has vaulted them into a tie with Stanford for fifth place in the conference. Splitting the season series doesn't help, but holding a win over Arizona is what gets ASU into the fifth spot in Las Vegas, one that could put the Sun Devils in place for a run as they already have wins over their next three most likely opponents.
6.) Washington State: Lost to Utah, beat Colorado at home (7-11) [LW:9] – The Cougars beat the Buffs on senior day, and that wasn't the only good that came out of the weekend. Ernie Kent had his team a few plays away from sweeping the weekend and knocking off a suddenly dysfunctional Utah squad. Washington State may not have been very good, but with Josh Hawkinson coming back and Kent having time to truly build his team, the Cougars could be trending up very soon.
7.) Colorado: Beat Washington, lost to Washington State on the road (7-11) [LW:10] - Beating Washington is no great feat, but Colorado lands in the seven spot after actually winning a game this week. This ranking says less about the Buffs and more about the teams ranked below them. However, Tad Boyle, to his credit, didn't want to fight anyone after this week, so that is a win.
8.) Stanford: Got swept by Arizona State and Arizona (9-9) [LW:5] – What a brutal week for the Cardinal, who lost just about any shot that they had to make the field of 68. Leave it to a Johnny Dawkins coached team to fall apart at the end of the season. Stanford wasn't ever beating Arizona in McKale on senior day, but losing to Arizona State was very costly for its resume and team morale.
9.) Washington: Lost to Colorado, beat Utah at home (5-13) [LW:12] – Leave it to Lorenzo Romar and Nigel Williams-Goss to come up with a big win, much too late into the season. Washington knocked off Utah and made it look easy, though it didn't do anything for seeding in the conference tournament. The Huskies may use it as motivation, but a game against Stanford is going to be anything but easy.
10.) Oregon State: Lost to Oregon at home (8-10) [LW:7] – After winning 14 straight home games to start the season, the Beavers have lost two of the last three at Gill Coliseum. At one point, it looked like Wayne Tinkle was the runaway pick for Coach of the Year in the conference, but his team just couldn't cut it down the stretch. Despite that, the Beavers still have two very winnable games in front of them, with Colorado and Oregon on the horizon.
11.) California: Got swept by Arizona and Arizona State on the road (7-11) [LW:6] – The Golden Bears got completely handled in the state of Arizona and even though Cuonzo Martin is only in his first season at California, the way that his team has performed down the stretch has been less than optimal. Things may get better in the coming years, but with Tyrone Wallace seemingly headed to the NBA, the Golden Bears' roster next year is looking pretty grim.
12.) USC: Lost to UCLA on the road (3-15) [LW:11] – USC played UCLA tough for about ten minutes and then the wheels came off. Andy Enfield probably has about two years left in terms of his seat being hot, but losing Jordan McLaughlin for a considerable amount of time isn't going to help things.
Yes, that happened: Arizona State did what very few people thought or expected it to do this weekend, pulling off a sweep over Stanford and Cal at home. That, combined with the Cardinal's complete meltdown, allowed ASU to move up and finish fifth in the conference.
Herb Sendek was able to get his ragtag band of junior college guys and fresh faces playing well enough to sit as pretty as a 9-9 team can in the Pac-12 tournament. The Sun Devils have a near guaranteed with over USC on Wednesday and a very winnable game against UCLA after that.
What went wrong? After losing to Arizona on senior day in the Huntsman Center, the Utes have been everything but Runnin'. The loss of the conference title seems to have taken a big toll on Utah, which is why the loss to Washington is so much worse when you realize that the Utes play just as horribly and without heart against Washington State just days before.
Larry Krystkowiak saw that his team was playing very poorly after the loss to Arizona and was still unable to find any motivation for his team heading the weekend. Utah went from sharing a league title to sitting on the third line in the conference tournament in just three games. That little problem should probably cost Krystkowiak his claim to the Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
Hot Shot of the Week: Not many players in the country can go out like T.J. McConnell did this weekend. The senior point guard was just shy of a double-double with 8 points and 11 assists in the Thursday night game against California, but he made sure to get it with 10 points and 11 assists in his last home win over Stanford. Remarkably, with his 22 assists on the weekend, McConnell only turned the ball over twice.
The next time you will see him in McKale Center will be in this video. The only question is which number he will get to add to.
Pac-12 Tournament Predictions: Since there are no games set in stone this week that are worth picking for the game of the week, I'll treat you all to how I think the Pac-12 Tournament plays out.
California beats Washington State: The Cougars are coming off a promising weekend, but California just has too much talent to not be able to pull out of its nosedive.
Arizona State beats USC: This one is a gimme. Unless Katin Reinhardt goes off for 40 points on less than 40 shots, the Sun Devils advance.
Oregon State beats Colorado: The one game that is shaky in the first round is this one. The Beavers have been really bad away from Corvallis this year, but I think Wayne Tinkle can pull out one neutral court win.
Stanford beats Washington: At last, the nightmare season for the Huskies is over. This one is never close after the tip.
Arizona beats California: The Wildcats have no trouble with the Golden Bears again and Ivan Rabb gets one more chance to see it before he makes his decision.
Arizona State beats UCLA: In what may be the only upset of the tournament, the Bruins waste away their last chance at the NCAA tournament.
Oregon beats Oregon State: Joseph Young has had over a week off and unloads for a huge scoring night in the Civil War rematch.
Utah beats Stanford in overtime: The Utes need an extra five minutes to top the Cardinal after realizing that a loss would put them as a 6-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Arizona beats Arizona State: Revenge has never tasted so sweet for Arizona as they move on to the title game.
Utah beat Oregon: After digging deep to win the night before, Utah comes gunning for the team that dropped it to third.
Arizona beats Utah: The curse is lifted and Sean Miller finally gets to hoist the trophy and cut down the nets in Las Vegas after both teams endure a complete Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed type slugfest.